7.04.2007

summer sights and sounds

a couple of weeks ago, we officially entered the summer season. if the heat doesn't give it away, the throngs of kids out and about in the middle of the day surely should. i have to curb my impulse to ask them why they aren't in school - not that i do that during the traditional school year, but the impulse is there. so what are kids in my neighborhood up to whilst i sit and type, type, type away?
- they walk in groups and eat pizza
- share music by splitting headphone feeds from one ipod
- flirt
- ride bikes
- shop, purchase, preen
- laugh, giggle, and more laughing

kids laugh. teens laugh. scream with laughter. giggle, chuckle, hoot, holler, chortle...

several years ago, while on a train from paris to visit the chartres cathedral, i had a thought that was brought on by the sounds being made by teenagers at the other end of the train car: what do youth sound like?
more recently, as i've been working hard to conceptualize, operationalize, and put down on paper and image the notion of engaging youths' voices, i find myself thinking a lot about that train ride and asking myself the following related questions:
  • what does youth voice look like?
  • what does it mean to listen to young people? to see them, and not just look at them?
  • what does youth engagement in research look like? feel like? what does it compromise? what does it engender?
  • how do researchers and educators create spaces for youth to voice themselves? pay attention to the spaces they are already voicing? engage in collective voicing with youth?
  • which voices - words, pitches, timbres, accents - are sought? heard? included?
summer provides ample opportunity to see youth voices in action, if only we pay attention and adjust our sensory filters to see and hear, and refrain from giving into the impulse to map young people onto the institutions with which we regularly associate them (e.g., schools)...