Hearing voices

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I read books. Real ones with pages, and sometimes the e-type. Two books I’ve read recently (actually one I’m still reading) have reminded me of the importance of voice in writing. Both of these books have strong first-person narration that brings the voice to life.

One is

    The Help

by Kathryn Stockett. I picked up this book because I knew it had been made into a movie and I wondered what the fuss was about. The author gave a strong voice to not only the main narrator but also several other diverse characters. For someone to whom the experience of being a woman, white or black, during the Civil Rights movement is totally foreign, these voices in their authenticity were able to move me in a profound way.

I’m still in the middle of

    Half-Blood Blues

by Esi Edugyan. Again a strong and distinct voice for the narrator, a mixed-race jazz musician in Berlin in 1939/1940. His voice also draws in readers and brings the passions and politics to life.

These two books have led me to reflect on the importance of having a voice. First I joined Twitter @davison_carol and after lurking for a while, I started sharing things that were important, or funny, or just me. Then I began to use my voice to represent my school on our blog, Learning at Forsyth. I also invited students to bring their voices to the book blog page and as guest posters. Then, about two weeks ago, I decided to start a forum for my own voice. Now, I have some colleagues who don’t think their voice is important enough to speak. They have a Twitter account but have yet to tweet. They may think about blogging but again don’t have the confidence to believe that their voice is important. I would like to publicly encourage them (Judy? James?) to speak up. The thing is, the audience isn’t necessarily important. Giving yourself a voice is a form of personal reflection that is critical in personal growth and professional development.

As educators we also want our students to develop a voice in their writing. In fact, one of our school goals for the coming year is to develop students’ communication skills, orally and in writing. In essence, we want them to develop an effective voice. In our inner-city school, students have so many experiences that are shaping who they are and who they will become. Just like the characters in the books we read, that voice is a way of sharing that experience and understanding the lessons that our life experience teach us. I am optimistic that our teachers will take advantage of all of the new modes of expression available through technology (Audioboo, blogging, twitter, wikis, YouTube, etc.) to provide the impetus for students to want to have a voice, and to think critically about what their voice should sound like.

I can’t wait to keep hearing voices.

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