23 SES 10 D, Students as Actors
Parallel Paper Session
The development of student voice is an ideal within democratic educational practice and a preoccupation of current policy (see Thompson and Gunter, 2007). It is, however, subject to many contradictory pressures especially within governance contexts that are increasingly regulated through the use of numbers and the calculability of student experience (Grek and Ozga, 2009). This paper explores some of the ways in which student voices are expressed, co-opted or marginalised within different policy regimes and discourses.
The notion of student voice has been particularly significant within adult literacy and community education programmes because of their inclusive ideals and the informal, non-hierarchical relationships between students and teachers that they aspire to. Opportunities for student writing and publishing are especially pertinent to literacy education and have a long theoretical pedigree, from the liberation pedagogy of the Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire (Freire, 1972) to more recent research (for example Mace, 1995; Ivanic, 2006) which argues for the importance of student writing as a way of developing a sense of control and authorship; as a way of expressing and claiming public space for marginalised identities; and as a space in which to collectively imagine new futures (Gutierrez, 2008).
This paper draws on a number of theoretical tools to explore the politics of student voice. Firstly it is grounded in the new literacy studies, which sees the meanings and values of literacy to be contingent and situated, shifting according to context, purpose and social relations (Barton and Hamilton 2012; Street and Lefstein, 2008). Scholars of literacy studies contrast the vernacular, everyday lived experiences of reading and writing with institutional contexts which select and privilege certain practices. They focus on the politics of diversity asking: which knowledge perspectives are acknowledged and allowed to enter educational practice? They also draw on social semiotics (Kress, 2009) to carry out close analysis of the social interactions and artefacts associated with the expression of student voice. This perspective also makes the claim that discourses have active, material effects within social practices.
For a compatible macro level theory of the social and policy process I draw on the theoretical resources of actor network theory. This offers a perspective on policy initiatives as flows of competing social projects that that aim to organize and make tractable diverse everyday lived experience and which rise and fall with the strength of the networks they enrol.
Barton, D. and Hamilton, M. (2012) (2nd edition) Local Literacies. Routledge. Freire, P. (1972) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Grek, S. and Ozga J. (2009) Governing Education through Data: Scotland, England and the European Education Policy Space. British Education Research Journal, 36(6), 937-952. Gutierrez, K.D. (2008) Developing a Sociocritical Literacy in the Third Space. Reading Research Quarterly, 43(2), 148–164. Hamilton, M. (2012) Literacy and the Politics of Representation London: Routledge. Hamilton, M. and Hillier, Y. (2006) Changing Faces of Adult Literacy, Language and Numeracy: A Critical History of Policy and Practice. London: Trentham Books. Ivanič, R. (2006). Language, learning and identification. In R. Kiely, P. Rea-Dickens,H. Woodfield, & G. Clibbon (Eds.), Language, culture and identity in applied linguistics. London: Equinox. pp. 7-29 Kress, G. (2009) Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication. London: Routledge. Lawn, M. and S. Grek. 2009. A short history of Europeanizing education: the new political work of calculating the future. European Education Issues and Studies 41(1): 32-54. Mace, J. (ed) Literacy, Language and Community Publishing. Clevedon: Multilingual matters. Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development. (2000) Literacy in the information age. Paris: OECD. Pecket Well College. (1987). Sharing Dreams: Pecket Well College Residential Weekend in Basic Education. Halifax: Pecket Well College Schleicher, A. 2008. PIAAC: A New Strategy For Assessing Adult Competencies. International Review of Education. DOI 10.1007/s11159-008-9105-0 Springer. Street, B.V. and Lefstein, A. (2008) Literacy: an Advanced Resource Book. London: Routledge. Thomson, P. & Gunter, H. (2007) The Methodology of Students-as-Researchers: Valuing and using experience and expertise to develop methods in Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 28(3), 327-342. Woodin, Tom (2008) A beginner reader is not a beginner thinker: student publishing since the 1970’s in Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education 44:1, 219-232.
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