Silencing Voices



Speak your mind is may be comforting to do when distressed or worried, but it remains a delicate thing. There are a lot of “what if’s..”, when uttered in the social arena – because it then becomes political. Saying out loud what you think might be considered as an indication of a possible mishap or wrongdoing. And that is a matter of sharing of opinions. When you point to an “Emperor’s New Clothes” your voice needs to be heard, at least that is the point of expressing it.  Tricky it becomes when your voice would not be recognized, considered inappropriate, or thought to be out of bound. What do you do? Persist? Give in? The social arena is very powerful in silencing voices (1). It often are newcomers to a field, individual persons not yet encapsulated by a ‘system’, angry, young daring (wo)men who courageously step forward and say “ Why do you do … the way you do”. To no avail?

An Australian study followed young beginning teachers after their recruitment to gauge how they got embedded in the policy ruled educational renewal programs at their school and collected their opinions and reactions relative to what these young teachers aspired and had been taught during their teacher education. “I had better shut up” could be the concise summary of their experiences. It was not appreciated what they brought forward or commented upon.

Now, these newly arrived teachers to the profession were not ‘whistleblowers’ or critics of the ins and outs of the school’s functioning. They asked probing, relevant questions which were put aside with disdain or neglect. Admitted, these were individual voices, not concerted opinions of dislikes. What lacked was that there were no spokesmen to afford their argument (2). So, who can stand in for these non-silent voices? It is and remains: responsive school management. Comments from newly arrived constitute a strongbox of valuable learning assets that deserve much more than to be handled as insults.



Misty Adoniou (2015) ‘It’s very much taken as an insult if I say anything’: do new educators have a right to speak their mind?, Cambridge Journal of Education, 45:4,401-414, To link to this article:






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