The most important people all education systems are the students. They are the reason schools exist but in the past their voices were the least heard. I don’t mean that they are the quietest members of our communities. What I mean is that they have had limited say in what their education looks like or what they learn about. A significant shift in contemporary education has been the focus on capturing student voice to shape the learning that happens in our classrooms.
The teaching of good teachers has always been guided by topics and questions that interest the children. Our new curriculum documents are making this more explicit through their inquiry focus. An inquiry approach to learning and teaching requires teachers to capture what the children know and need to know, by asking the children to share the questions they have on specific topics. The teachers then take this information and use it to develop their teaching and learning programs ensuring that they cover essential concepts as well as the interests of the children. The inquiry process also challenges the children to go deeper with their learning. They have a responsibility to apply their knowledge to investigate and find the answers to their questions.
At Our Lady of Mount Carmel our children have many opportunities to have their voice heard. This is initially evident in their classrooms and everyday interactions with their classmates and teachers. Our Student Leaders and Student Representative Council have the opportunity to share the student voice on school initiatives. Our Year 6 children are currently participating in the Voice of Youth speaking competition, where they have prepared a short speech about an issue that means something to them. At the core of these and many other opportunities for the students to have a voice is their responsibility to always be respectful in the way they express themselves.
Jesus was an individual who challenged the way society viewed and interacted with the people on the margins of society. Jesus sought these people out and gave them a voice and an opportunity to be heard and included. In Catholic education we endeavour to do the same.