“The Importance of Having a Voice”
Are children being heard in the classroom? Working in an education environment this question should be asked and explored. Communication plays a role throughout life, it allows us to exchange information and ideas, express our needs and desires to learn about the world and to become social beings. (Owen 2001, cited in Porter 2002:155), Communication indicates the ability to convey a message by non linguistic (non verbal) and linguistic (verbal) communication. (Dore 1986, cited in Porter 2002:155) Shannon and Weaver (1949, cited in Powell 2010:8) describe communication process as ‘a message centre approach’, exchanging the message from one destination to another. Berlo (1960) argue that messages are influenced by a number of individual difference variables (cited in Powell 2010:9) and that messages are sent through different channels, sent by the sender to reach the receiver for successful communication. Owen, (1992 cited in Kuder 1997:6) defined communication as “the process of exchanging information and ideas between participants”. Chomsky (cited in Childs 2010:121) supports that language enable children to process incoming signals, make sense of them and produce a response and it is the rules of language that children learn. However the communication may breakdown and some may find mastering the chain difficult and will not connect the message, therefore analysing and identifying their needs is essential so the chain becomes complete. This may cause difficulties in communication and pupils may be reluctant to participate in discussions, fail to ask questions and shy away from interaction with others. Working with children we must indentify, understand and help these children’s in communicating and to have a voice. Helping pupils to understand socio-political matters and helping them to indentify their own needs in society, in which they find themselves is a process which teachers have to address. Human rights have been identified as an issue in education and helping children indentify their own needs (Lister 1991, cited in Garner and Sandow 1995:15). Teachers therefore have to address the issues of education about human rights in a way which enabling for their pupils to communicate. Self advocacy is the action or utterance of a person on their own behalf without the intervention of another. Self advocacy enables us to make choices and make our decision and control the way that our lives should be made (Gary Bourlet 1988, cited in Goodley 2000:6). Giving pupils a voice and listening to what they have to say is an important in a classroom environment. According to Vygotsky (1981 cited in Powell 2010:14), the process of communication and mental processes are intertwined; therefore the ability to learn and think is connected to communication. Vygotsky (1962 cited in Kuder 1997:33) state, language development occurs because of interaction with others allowing the child to engage. Chomsky (1972 cited in Alfrey. 2008:69) argues that language learning is innate and language was not learnt and that we must be born with some ability to recognize the language. Therefore it is the ability to learn the rules of language that is important for communication. Practitioners are faced with teaching effective communication but there are many challenges, one being diversity, Banks (1984 cited in Powell 2010:1) use the term “multicultural education”. Therefore equal opportunities are provided in the classroom for race, ethnic, social class and cultural groups. Understanding the way diversity influences classroom communication is sustained by lessons plans, teaching methods, discipline strategies and the communication exchanges between the practitioners and learners, therefore within the class everyone will have the chance to make their voice being heard. Students with learning disabilities lack social and communicative competences (Powell 2002:105) and where there are communication...
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