The Importance of Letting Students Have a Voice

June 15, 2019
Children have their own thoughts and opinions, and we should listen to them and take them into account. Below, we'll explain what letting students have a voice means.

The education system has the opportunity and privilege of shaping people. This is true not only academically, but in regards to values as well. Therefore, school is the ideal place to create a better society for the future. To achieve this objective, listening to children and knowing their opinions is important. That’s why we’re going to talk about letting students have a voice in today’s article.

We have the duty to teach our children, but also to learn from them. Therefore, educators need to actively listen to their students. That way, we can understand how they see the world, what points of view they have, and what worries them.

What does it mean to let children have a voice?

The expression “student voice” is a term that is gaining popularity and significance around the world. The concept refers to those initiatives that aim to increase the protagonism and participation of students in certain aspects of the school environment.

The Importance of Letting Students Have a Voice

To do so, schools need to give children the means and goods that allow them to make more decisions. It means giving them an active, rather than passive, role in their own education and learning.

At the same time, it’s worth pointing out that all students should have a voice, with no discrimination in regards to the following:

  • Disability
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Religion
  • Academic performance

It’s important to give students the opportunity to be listened to. All students have opinions, independent of their characteristics and capacities, and these opinions matter.

Activities that allow students to have a voice

Letting students have a voice allows for the participation of students in improving their schools. It also serves as a tool for mobilization and change, allowing schools to offer a more inclusive and democratic education.

Some activities that can help teachers give their students a voice are the following:

  • Consultative events: Suggestion boxes, votations, petition panels, etc.
  • Role-playing: Carrying out group dynamics based on role playing.
  • Lego Serious Play: This method, created by Lego, allows children to use building blocks to represent solutions to a determined problem.
  • Social or participatory mapping: Here, children create maps with diverse graphic elements to represent problems and solutions.

A new teacher mentality

Letting children have a voice implies a change in the mentality of teachers and professors when assuming their roles as education mediators. Therefore, they need to forget about traditional teaching methodologies.

Traditionally, teachers are the center of attention in the classroom and students are mere receptors of information. Letting students have a voice means changing this dynamic.

At the same time, teachers must set aside their authoritative position and allow students to participate in school life. This allows them to develop personal autonomy, assume responsibility and become self-confident individuals.

“The aim of education should be to produce a self-governing being, not to produce a being to be governed by others.”

– Herbert Spencer –

The Importance of Letting Students Have a Voice

Conclusion on letting students have a voice

Schools need to implement inclusive educational practices that allow students to have a voice. These same practices should encourage peaceful coexistence and adequate educational support in order to promote change and improvement in schools.

Therefore, it’s time to motivate children to participate more in their own education. In this sense, we want to highlight the following statement:

“Participation means learning alongside others and collaborating with them in shared experiences. It requires active engagement with learning and having a say in how education is experienced. More deeply, it is about being recognized, accepted and valued for oneself.”

– Booth & Ainscow –

Of course, the participation of children shouldn’t be reduced to the educational environment alone. Rather, we must learn to listen to and respect children’s voices in all areas, including in their homes and communities.

In conclusion, we could say that encouraging participation and allowing students to have a voice has long-lasting benefits. Not only does it positively impact a child’s education, but it also helps to form citizens that will participate actively in future society.

“Schools should be a place where children learn and express themselves freely.”

  • Booth, T. y Ainscow, M. (2015). Guía para la educación inclusiva: desarrollando el aprendizaje y la participación en los centros escolares. Madrid: OEI.
  • Fielding, M. (2011). La voz del alumnado y la inclusión educativa: una aproximación democrática radical para el aprendizaje intergeneracional. Revista Interuniversitaria de Formación de Profesorado, 25(1), 31–61.
  • Susinos, T. (2012). Las posibilidades de la voz del alumnado para el cambio y la mejora educativa. Revista de Educación, (359), 16-23.
  • Susinos, T. y Ceballos, N. (2012). Voz del alumnado y presencia participativa en la vida escolar. Apuntes para una cartografía de la voz del alumnado en la mejora educativa. Revista de Educación, (359), 24-44.