Silencing Student Voice

Student engagement has a lot of different appearances.
Student engagement has a lot of different appearances.
To assist you in identifying and challenging adultism in schools, I’m adapting this list of common phrases educators have been conditioned to and may use to try to silence oppressed students, especially when students challenge them.
The quotations below are often used by educators against students; however, you can to hear similar strategic dismissals and silencing of the accounts and concerns among students and of parents and community members in education, too. Students of color, working class and poor students, queer and LGBTQI students, fat students, disabled students, and other marginalized students frequently hear these things more than other students. Silencing student voice happens a lot of different ways.
These strategies, and others that may have been missed, can be found in any order. Students’ experiences of educators trying to silence them commonly go something like this:
  • Educators assert authority over students
  • Educators question student knowledge/judgment
  • Educators delegitimize student responses
  • Educators delegitimize students
  • Educators enforce dominant point of view
  • Educators shut down debate or conversation
Strategy: Educators assert their authority over students.
1. No, but…
2. You’re wrong.
3. You’ve been wrong before.
4. That’s not true.
5. Are you sure? I’m going to Google it.
6. Really? I don’t believe it.
7. That’s never happened to me / anyone I know.
8. I’ve never seen / heard of that.
Strategy: Educators question student knowledge/judgment.
9. You don’t know that for sure.
10. You don’t know what you’re talking about.
11. That doesn’t count.
12. This is a completely different situation.
13. You’re making it about students when it’s not.
Strategy: Educators delegitimize student responses.
14. You’re overreacting.
15. You’re blowing it out of proportion.
16. Why are you making such a big deal out of it?
17. Stop getting so emotional.
18. Don’t tell me you’re upset about this.
19. You’re getting angry /raising your voice / shouting again.
20. Not everything is about…(structural oppression goes here).
21. Stop trying to make it about…(structural oppression goes here).
22. You always say that.
23. I knew you’d do this.
24. Can’t we talk about something else?
Strategy: Educators delegitimize students.
25. (Rude laughter)
26. (to someone else) She’s crazy. Don’t listen to her.
27. Why can’t you just relax?
28. Can’t you take a joke?
29. I’m just joking.
30. You’re so serious all the time.
31. You’re so angry all the time.
32. You have no sense of humour.
Strategy: Educators nforce the dominant point of view.
33. You have to accept that…
34. You must agree that…
35. It’s obvious that…
36. You must be stupid to think that…
37. Everybody knows…
Strategy: Educators shut down debate or conversation.
38. This is a stupid / irrelevant / useless conversation.
39. Why are we still having this conversation?
40. It’s not important.
41. Not everything is a campaign.
42. You’re making it worse by talking about it.
43. Why don’t you just give it up already?
44. I’m done.
45. Are we done?
46. Are you happy now?
47. I’m gonna hang up.
48. I don’t debate on this topic.
49. I’m not having this conversation.
50. I said I was sorry! Isn’t that enough?
This post is wholly adapted from here with permission of the original authors.

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[This post is wholly adapted from here with permission of the original authors.]

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