Youth Speaks Educational Philosophy
Committed to a critical, youth-centered pedagogy, Youth Speaks places students in control over their intellectual and artistic development. We at Youth Speaks view literacy development as an active process as opposed to a passive acquisition of skills and knowledge. Youth Speaks’ Poet Mentors facilitate ‘real’ experiences with writing, reading, speaking, listening, and thinking.
Youth Speaks aims to deconstruct dominant narratives in hopes of achieving a more inclusive learning experience. Youth Speaks views creativity as an inclusive and innate attribute that all youth possess. Rather than developing a craft, Youth Speaks offers teens the ability to freely explore their voice until their search for identity feels natural.
Genuine investment in one’s future begins the moment an individual is convinced s/he possesses a sense of empowerment. Embodied in the Youth Speaks philosophy is a respect for youth, as well as a continued dedication to their intellectual, personal, and artistic development.
Youth Speaks Poet Mentors serve as part of a classroom discourse, offering support and encouragement. By sharing their own works, as well as providing constructive feedback for youth, mentors offer narrative and expository texts that are written in their original and natural language. Contemporary and intergenerational readings bring together youth and adults to validate authentic expression and to strengthen a literary continuum. By expressing their thoughts with peers and mentors, students collectively transform the classroom from a site of teacher-centered instruction to a community that promotes student-centered thought and dialogue.
We at Youth Speaks seek to create a safe space where youth feel confident sharing their voice and individual perspective. More importantly, Youth Speaks encourages youth to express themselves using their own vernacular. The idea of “talent” or being “talented” is often viewed as a mysterious force bestowed on a given individual, rather than the result of hard work, practice, and commitment.