Dialogue has the potential to empower students as they consider their own points of view in the classroom setting. When teachers intentionally invite students to participate and develop their own views, the conversation will likely go political. According to societal rules, we should not participate in political discussions in public spaces. This article challenges that mindset.
Fahima Ife’s article, “Powerful Writing: Promoting a Political Writing Community of Students,” was published in the March 2012 issue of The English Journal. Ife details her methods for encouraging students to voice their opinions through open dialogue and personal writing assignments, ultimately creating a political writing community.
Ife started by allowing her students to share their opinions on where “real” writing happens. This assignment sparked a discussion on the differences between school and leisure writing, and the need to merge the two. In order to do so, Ife created a classroom community where all ideas were welcome. To foster their discussions, Ife had her students write about topics such as current events, sex-trafficking in Atlanta, and gender roles.
Through the in-class activities, the students’ voices were honored, their interest initiated, and their writing became more powerful. This article includes an example of a student’s work as well as a table of Ife’s writing activities. Additionally, this article discusses a long-term project, an anthology to showcase students’ writing, which will be used to expand their classroom discussions to the community.
How do you encourage students to develop their voices in a political context? Share your thoughts with us. You can find us on Facebook or tag your comments on Twitter with #LifeWrites.
This contribution was made by Christina Ugrovics, senior English: Professional Writing major, French minor at Elizabethtown College, PA.