Review: FORUM Special Issue on Student Voice

Originally published in Meaningful Student Involvement Research Review by Adam Fletcher (2004) Olympia, WA: SoundOut.

Review of FORUM Special issue on student voice. Edited by M. Fielding. Published in 2001 as Forum 43(2).

This edition of Forum addresses multiple issues inherent in Meaningful Student Involvement, and challenges previous work on students’ power, student engagement and student advocacy for school change.

The topics cover a variety of areas including democratic practices in school, the validity and authenticity of student voice, the multiplicity of students’ experiences, and the authority of students in school.

The authors in this journal reflect the growing interest in student voice from a variety of perspectives, including those of current students, former students, professors, researchers and educators. Careful navigation of the topics provides a roadmap of Meaningful Student Involvement by examining classroom-centered activities and school governance programs.

Authors from the United Kingdom, Chile and the United States detail their experiences and challenges through critical lenses. They also provide reflections on how their research could have been improved.

The findings are as diverse as the writers. In the first three articles, the student writers share their perspectives on the necessity of “student voice.” They identify different ways to infuse students into the curriculum-making process through team-based learning and engaging students as researchers.

The fourth chapter is one of three case studies included. The author explores how a student research program progressed from viewing students as data sources to students learning about and conducting the research. Issues raised throughout the remainder of the journal raise several vital questions, including:

  • Do schools actively deny the creativity and responsibility student have within them to change schools?
  • How and what can educators learn from students whose voices they don’t want to hear?
  • What are the issues and opportunities of working with students to conduct research in schools?
  • Where else are schools engaging students as school change agents?

In the final chapter editor Michael Fielding provides a remarkable framework for evaluating the conditions of student voice and offers an appraisal of student voice as a force for genuine change in schools. It effectively serves as an evaluation framework for assessing the meaningfulness of student involvement. This framework exists in a space that has always existed, yet never before been occupied.

This edition of Forum provides essential documentation of existing efforts that promote student inclusive school change. It provides detailed, diverse, and replicable accounts of success.

The international perspectives, the stories, and the tools offered in this publication provide important considerations for student inclusive change efforts.

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