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Cascade Matters is the blog of Cascade Educational Consultants. Cascade has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. We are committed to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens. Learn more about us.

Cascade Educational Consultants is an educational consulting firm committed to high-quality equitable teaching, learning and serving environments for all students to succeed in school and in life. Click here to learn more about our services...




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Voice vs. Echo

Over the past few weeks I have traveled to New York City, NY; Nashville, TN; Washington, DC; and Jackson, MS and consistently heard education leaders mention the importance of "youth engagement."

It seems that there is recognition among key education stakeholders that for the next generation of citizens to be critical decision-makers, effective communicators, ethical and moral workers, good family members and active principled citizens we need to provide formal and informal opportunities for young Americans to acquire and enhance these important skills.

Thus, a general belief that it would be a good idea to focus on youth engagement. Of course, just what youth engagement is varies from organization to organization and from individual to individual.

At one end of the student engagement continuum is a passive let's engage youth in situations that we adults control and ensure there is no risk to them or to others while at the other end is a more active orientation engaging youth in social issues they care about and believe they can contribute to their solution.

As I interacted with education leaders over the past month, I have seen examples of each of these orientations and options along the continuum.

It seems to me that one way of framing the challenge we as adults have engaging youth is to consider whether we really want young citizens to create an authentic voice based on their experiences, insights, aspirations and hopes; or whether we want young citizens to merely echo orientations to solving social problems.

I suggest that to ensure young citizens acquire and enhance the knowledge and skills required to be successful in a local, national and global society we need to become comfortable with them expressing their voice rather than focus on them echoing our orientation to solving problems.

Of course this is a difficult proposition, but none the less necessary to ensure the next generation of Americans are active principled citizens.

Yes, lets engage youth in critical decision-making, effective communication and problem solving; but lets create active opportunities for them to create and share their voice, rather than take the more comfortable route and encourage them to echo our solutions to social problems.

About the author: Terry Pickeral, president Cascade Educational Consultants has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.

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