Hearing the Voices of Children

Today was an amazing day and reminded me so much of why I wanted to become an educator. I was so overwhelmed I had to cry.

I took my Speech students to the Whitney Plantation, a wonderful place that honors the lives and stories of enslaved people in Louisiana. In my Speech class, I teach my students to respectfully use their voices, express what they are feeling, and to never shy away from saying what they have to say while remaining respectful. 

Today, my students were able to hear the voices of children who never given an opportunity to speak, because to do so could end tragically through torture or death. In hearing their voices throughout the tour, I watched as my students began to feel the impact of the hardships our ancestors faced. I watched as they felt compelled to honor those who have come before them. I watched as they felt the pain of the enslaved people, because some of their realities were very similar. I watched as they found pride in knowing that through all of their pain, there was hope for a better tomorrow.

In this field trip, I wanted to bring history to life. I wanted them to walk where the ancestors walked, feel their presence, leave questioning their goals for their future and the importance of community. They did, but ironically, it was me who walked away with something to learn.

I learned that it is important to not only guide our children through life, but learn to listen to them along the way. They need us now more than ever. As their village, we have a duty to work together so that they can fulfill their greatest potential. Hearing them out doesn’t mean giving them what they want all the time, but it does mean that we at least give them an opportunity to be heard and given the respect they need when we listen.

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