Eve Mayes and Rosalyn Black, “Feeling Voice: The Emotional Politics of ‘Student Voice’ for Teachers,” British Educational Journal 46, no. 5 (October 2020): 1064-1080. DOI: 10.1002/berj.3613.
In recent years, student voice has become a popular school reform strategy, with the promise of generating relations of trust, respect, belonging and student empowerment. However, when student voice practices are taken up by schools, student voice may also be associated with less affirmative feelings: it is often accounted for in terms of teacher ‘fear’, ‘resistance’ or ‘uncertainty’ about altered power relations. Such explanations risk individualising and pathologising teachers’ responses, rather than recognising the complexities of the institutional conditions of student voice. This article considers the affective politics of student voice: that is, the contestations that attend who gets to name how student voice feels in schools. Working with data from an evaluation study of three Australian primary schools who engage in ‘exemplary’ student voice practices, we listen to school leaders and facilitating teachers’ accounts about the responses of other teachers at their schools to student voice. Parallels are drawn between the construction of some teachers as reluctant, and previous analyses of ‘silenced’ student voices in schools. We argue that, in order to analyse the enactment of student voice in more nuanced tones, it is necessary to consider the profoundly emotional experience of teaching and learning, the ambivalences of teachers’ experiences of student voice, and contemporary reconstitutions of teacher subjectivities.