As we celebrate Labor Day today, it seems that we might also
reflect and think about why we have Labor Day and why it is important to a
democracy. Labor Day represents the voice and expression of
American workers - and we celebrate it for all the people who have worked
and died to make working conditions and working pay fair.
And so it is in schools - students who work to have a voice in school take on more ownership of school. They invest of themselves by working to create an environment in which their participation matters.
As Dennis Littky remarks, “To learn about democracy and about how to participate in and contribute to one, students must be part of a democratic environment. Giving students a voice, though, is much more than just electing class officers and forming student councils.” (LIttky and Grabelle, The Big Picture)
And it should be more than token involvement - like class officers and student councils. Students can and should be involved as authentically as possible - for that authentic involvement gives them practice for the involvement that they should have later in their working environment.
And this level of authentic involvement is not something that can be recorded or measured on a test - but it is surely great material for the student e-Portfolio.