#YourEduStory: Empowering student voice

This week’s topic: Empowering student voice: how to foster an environment in education to empower students voice, freedom and expression?

In my current role, I don’t feel I have as great of an impact on student voice. However, I believe maker education is one solution. But, this also involves us restructuring education. 

The idea that we are creators – we are makers – is behind maker education. It’s paired heavily with design thinking. Unfortunately, though, I have sat through design thinking workshops and, often, the focus is on the verb and not the process. This is not to say that design thinking is not beneficial, but, it should be about the process, not the words. 
Recently, I sat through a workshop on the “making of a makerspace.” The presenters tried to go through the design thinking process, but in the event, they killed all creativity and freedom of expression. 
Personally, I am at my most expressive and most creative when I am allowed to experiment and then, refine my work – not the other way around. Often, we ask students to go through the refinement before they’ve ever had the chance to create. 
As a former high school English teacher, I know the importance of storyboarding and brainstorming. But, to a point. In education, we tend to stifle creativity during this step if we are not careful. Sometimes, it’s best to get our hands dirty and then, clean up after. The focus should be on refining the process and documenting the process as we go through it – not on going through a written process and then, creating it. 
We can empower student voice when we give them the chance to create and to experiment before asking them for deeper meaning. Learning comes in playing. I watch my three-year old niece. She learns everyday through play. She learns through other measures, no doubt, but the basis of her learning is in play. 
For me, I learn and feel most free when I can create outside. For others, they like a more structured space. We need to focus on metacognition. We need to ask students to reflect on their own learning and thinking – when do they feel most creative? Then, we need to do our best to provide a similar space. We can empower students in giving them voice in their learning space.
Once we open up the creative bowl, we provide immediate access to student voice. 
The key to empowerment is through creativity and play. 
How do you empower student voice?

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