Everyone Has a Voice!: Listening, Empowerment, Confrontation, Healing
Every One Has a Voice!:
Listening, Empowerment, Confrontation, Healing
The 25th annual summer conference of The Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning
of the National Council of Teachers of English (www.aepl.org)
June 20-23, 2019, YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, CO
If we really want to change things…, it’s going to start at the grassroots level,
and with our [youth]. –Barack Obama, 1995
Democracy will come into its own
[--}for democracy is a name for a life of free and enriching communion[--]…
when free social inquiry is indissolubly wedded to the art of full and moving communication.
--John Dewey, 1927
Perhaps the times we are now living through will at some point come to be known as The Age of Donald Trump and #MeToo! With the former comfortably in the past. And the latter the permanent democratic norm. Historically exemplified by the plethora of voices—prominent among them students and teachers—now speaking out, in these very times, for the healing of the plethora of abuses brought about by our longstanding submission to unjust, dehumanizing, and unnatural hierarchies of many kinds. Through whose voices the motto “We are the one ones we’ve been waiting for” will have become not just a one-time inducement to vote, but an everlasting call for all to live in truth.
This is the vision inspiring the 25th Annual Summer Conference of the NCTE Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning—a vision that will be greatly, and directly, amplified by the presence there with us of the voices of you and your students!
(We are also seeking funding to bring students and teachers from Parkland, Florida)
Carol Gilligan, of Harvard and NYU, has been a powerful public voice for the power of democratic voice since the 1980s, with the publication of her landmark In a Different Voice. And it was her comment that “a democracy is not just a place where everyone has a vote, but where everyone has a voice”—at our 2003 conference “Building a Culture of Listening in Our Institutions of Learning”—that inspired this year’s theme. Her brand new book (with David A.J. Richards, a prospective conference speaker once we have sufficient enrollment/donations) Darkness Now Visible: Patriarchy’s Resurgence and Feminist Resistanceis of breathtaking timeliness and importance. Its message has been summed up by Gloria Steinem: “It is the sleight-of-hand of every unjust system to become the rule, and to make everyone else the exception. [This book] end[s] the idea that patriarchy represents everybody, and show[s] that feminism turns patriarchy into democracy. [It is] a prescription for tearing down Trumpian walls…[by] seeing each other as unique and equal.”
Hepzibah Roskelly and Kate Ronald, of UNC Greensboro and Miami University of Ohio, are perhaps the most prominent feminist voices in NCTE, our sponsoring organization.
Vajra Watson, Director of Research and Policy for Equity at UC, Davis, has fostered and empowered the vibrant voices of 5000 youth through the Sacramento Area Youth Speak (SAYS)program. She has been a member of the AEPL board since 2016.
Questions and Topic Areas for Proposals (though let your own voice be your main guide)
What are the ideas and practices in your classroom that, in the words of Mary Rose O’Reilley “listen [people] into existence”? That help them know that their voices and stories are meaningful and resonantly empowering to others, and need to be heard in both intimate and public spaces?
How have they learned to use those voices to speak personally storied truth to power in both small and large ways? And how have new possibilities for healing and transformative change in our collective stories, writ large or small, been brought about through their—and your—speaking out? (We use the word “possibilities” here because we know that many of the stories you will share will likely involve the witnessing of the many tragedies and martyrdoms that are so often required to impel us to compassionate change.)
What are the various ways that prevailing educational practices make the hidden claim “I am your voice” that has been blatantly asserted by our current president? And how can we broadly institute educational practices that will educe the great chorus of voices that constitutes authentic democracy?
Proposal topic suggestions:
Making marginalized lives and voices matter
Making humanity and the humanities matter
Making nature and biodiversity matter
Feminisms and new understandings of manhood
Diverse community building
Empathy and compassion, including “speaking truth to power with love” (Cornel West),
and for the concealed inner pain of oppressors
Speaking and public speechmaking through embodied voice
Public discourse in the writing classroom and elsewhere
Truth and reconciliation: Confession and forgiveness
Practices of nonviolence
Understandings of the psychology of violence and its prevention
Specific readings: works of literature and theory
Important thinkers and role models
Activism—online and in person
Personally encountering meaningful history
To propose: Send an abstract of up to 250 words for a 75-minute interactive workshop (preferred format), making sure to include descriptions of the activities in which you will involve participants; or a 20-30 minute talk or short teaching demo, to EveryOneHasaVoiceAEPL2019@gmail.com by December 1 for early consideration, January 15 for regular consideration. Proposals submitted after January 15 will be considered if room remains on the program.
Registration: $195 until January 6, 2019; $270 January 7-April 15, 2019; $350 after April 15; discounts for students, adjuncts, and retirees and for multiple attendees from the same organization. Registration available mid-September at www.aepl.org. Refund policy, and lodging and membership info on website mid-September.