Let’s take an example of a teacher collaborating with students on a set of class rules. Is this increasing student voice? Not really, and here’s why. The rules that inevitably are arrived at and posted on the wall for all to clearly see are essentially contrived by the teacher, regurgitated school rules that have been indoctrinated into students for years. Coercing students into asking them to take ownership of those rules and then creating a system for punishing themselves for breaking them is hardly increasing student voice, but more a sinister manipulation of their desperate desire to have some voice.

I’ve done this myself. Convinced students that a cooperative classroom is more productive and beneficial to learning which is what students need when they leave school. The rationale is precise, but is seriously compromised if what the students are learning is not actually what they need when they leave school. The irony is of course that in that classroom there is a handful of students that aren’t connected to the learning on offer. These are the ones who break the rules, the ones who see no relevance to their own lives, the ones who despise the other students in the room who have conspired against them in towing the teacher’s line.

Student voice? Hardly.