Convenient Student Voice -or- Inconvenient Student Voice?

From my research and experience working in with than 300 K-12 schools, districts, and state education agencies, I have identified two types of student voice in schools: convenient and inconvenient. Using these to teach students and adults about student voice, I have found this understanding can help people grasp which issues student voice can address through Meaningful Student Involvement.

Convenient Student Voice entails students saying or doing things that adults are comfortable with. When students talk about the non-curricular things that most directly impact them, such as cafeteria food, textbook conditions, or bathroom usage, they are generally offering convenient student voice. Convenient student voice usually comes from students who are already seen by the adults as positive role models in the schoola student leadership class, for instance, or members of the Honors Society.

Inconvenient Student Voice happens when students bring up ideas and taking actions that adults do not expect or are uncomfortable hearing. These topics can be those that impact teaching or governance at the school, or even be topics that some adults themselves want to discuss but fear bringing up due to the administration or other outside forces.  Inconvenient student voice often comes from students who are not seen as leaders by adults, or who feel alienated by the school, and it might come at times and places that adults are not expecting.  

Both convenient and inconvenient student voice are important to Meaningful Student Involvement, and both have a role to play in creating positive, powerful school change.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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