Changing Pedagogies and Student Voice

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Today it seems as though pedagogy is becoming a word we are hearing about a lot more.  A word that is starting to seep beyond education and government, into other institutions, organizations and aspects of society that have genuine interests in the future of our children. The evidence certainly points toward the idea that we are at a precipice of a new way of thinking and learning in education that involves more stakeholders. More people are realising that education does not have to be limited to our school structures and governments. and more and more people are realising that education is about helping to cultivate student voice.

It certainly appears that we need to perhaps decentralize education and make connections with other organizations etc., just as we are increasingly doing with our own students. There are many educators advocating for the right of students to learn through connections with other organizations, FNMI communities, and families – in addition to stepping back from prescribed curriculum to enable students to find their passions within the education system.

Education cannot be just about the content knowledges from our curriculum documents. Our curriculum is Eurocentric and is based on specific voices. We need to shift our thinking away from following curriculum documents so closely, and teaching to promote standardized tests, towards a goal of focusing on the outcomes that enables our students, communities, and families to also ‘own’ and ‘create’ the information. Education is the place to promote equity and accessibility to enable opportunities for everyone to stake a claim to the spaces that produce the information.

Pedagogy needs to evolve in ways that enhance student voice. There are important voices that are not being heard.

Another way that pedagogy can change to promote student voice is by increasing interconnectedness between organizations, communities, and families. Perhaps we even need to embrace the use of big data to inform our choices moving forward. However, there is a great deal of apprehension surrounding this issue as well in light of all of the privacy concerns, identity theft, and once again – who ‘owns’ the information, etc. Regardless, this ‘big data’ ultimately will inform our pedagogy and maybe even tell us what the ‘voices’ are saying. Aggregate this information into products. This causes me to ponder whether the big data will ultimately measure our pedagogy, or create it. Will the it become so intertwined with our education system and that it will actually play a larger role in shaping what our behaviour is as educators – just as standardization has shaped teaching practice in major ways.

I also wonder how this will change standardization of testing in North American schools. Will education become automated? Will education become more standardized and automated as a result of the learning analytics and third party involvement in education? Big questions with no concrete answers.

Pedagogy needs to reflect our world in the 21st century. It is certainly a different world now that poses challenges in addition to bringing us increased possibilities. Regardless, we need to promote student voice. We need to strive to make sure that education is for the students, and we can do this by becoming conscious of our models of teaching. The 21st century provides education with opportunities to help populations that have not traditionally been heard, to be heard, and we need education to be that equalizer that harnesses the opportunities to make this possible.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Great post Deborah! I am all for including students’ voices in designing my curriculum and helping to identify what they wish to learn. My role has changed to be not only “the guide on the side” but also helping students understand what skills they need to learn and how to best guide them to learn those skills.


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