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Is this the future of Youth Voices?

Written by Paul Allison
October 17, 2010

School started in August on the Gulf Coast, and classes began in New York City soon after Labor Day.  Early in August, singer and teacher, David Puling wrote to say that that he wasn’t sure how to integrate Voices on the Gulf into his course yet. “The curriculum is pre-set, but I’m determined to
find some way because the opportunity is too rich with potential and authenticity.” Well, he figured it out.

He began by having his Louisiana State University at Eunice students join the site and and post “their own stories of how this catastrophe has affected them and the ones they love.” David plans to have his students “revisit the site throughout the semester, and their culminating research paper later in the fall (the obligatory second semester comp project) will stem from their involvement with this website.”

Both David and I and I have invited any teacher we know to take advantage of this opportunity as well.

About half-way into the fall semester, David Pulling began to reflect on the future of Voices on the Gulf and, by extension, Youth Voices. He wondered how he would be using Voices on the Gulf in the spring semester:

This Fall group started the semester with the oil spill still in the headlines, they’ve made exciting indirect connections with other social and cultural issues, and I can’t wait to see the work some of them will do with their topics once we get to the I-Search project.  I don’t know what to expect for a new cohort coming in January, though. How the site will have evolved by that point is unknown…. Participating in the project is awesome. I certainly hope we’re at a beginning rather than an end, whether Voices on the Gulf one day morphs into Voices on the Great Lakes or Voices from Appalachia or Voices from the Inner City or whatever. This is just such a powerful medium for teachers and learners across grade levels and disciplines and geographical regions to form a diverse community and grapple with meaningful issues. (personal email)

What an exciting vision David has stumbled onto here! When Chris Sloan heard this vision, he said that an environmental teacher in his school took a look at Voices on the Gulf and said that in Utah they need a Voices on the Desert. Why not? What would regional social networks look like with Youth Voices acting as a hub for authentic conversations all over the United States?

It’s just a thought, so far.