Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Simple, Imperfect Voice

I read an excerpt about pundits ridiculing a leader recently about his "voice."  They sought to minimize the leader's words and oration. I felt a pang as I read their critique because like that leader I am not always respected for my simple words, fourth grade teacher perspective, female lens, and at-times text with errors.

Yet, I continue to write.

Like that leader I'm on the front line each day. I don't have multiple support staff to edit my prose or review my speeches. I haven't had the luxury of lots of time to hone my skill. Yet, I have had substantial support along the way, enough to give me the tools, words and confidence to express my point of view, and I believe in the freedom of speech and the right for every American (and world citizen) to express his/her point of view with their best ability as well as the responsibility to be respectful and mindful of the potential powerful effect of words.

I encourage everyone to take the time to express their opinion. I especially encourage those who may be worried about their prose, grammar, and ideas to not stay silent, and instead try out voice to both broaden and deepen our collective lens as thinkers and decision makers.

When we ridicule others' speak, particularly those who are making a concerted, respectful effort to share thought, uplift a crowd, or create important debate, we serve to silence others around us.  Instead, I suggest that critical pundits focus more on intent with respect on local dialect, the speaker's history and his/her service. In the same regard, I believe that those who know more about oration should offer suggestions and direction rather than ridicule.

As an educator, this discussion reminds me that it is a new era for voice. With easy share, words are more numerous and powerful than ever. People are using words and oration in multiple new ways via the Internet and live presentations continuously. Pundits and critics abound. Multiple false words and hidden identities exist as well. Just last night a hacker took over the 60 Minutes Twitter Feed espousing all kinds of negative, angry speak, and throughout the Boston Marathon tragedy, both truth and falsehoods were shared readily.

How will we best teach our students about the importance of words, voice and speak?  In what ways will we allow our students to practice this skill? When will they have the chance to critically and respectively analyze text, prose, blogs, tweets and articles looking for truth, connection and impact? As we make this incredible turn in the education road, voice is a central theme to consider. I am wondering how you will consider and employ this theme in the work you do?  I am open to your thoughts and share.