Speaking Up as a Student
March 10, 2021
We can have as many discussions as we want and talk about every topic we can think of as long as we continue to do it with respect.
In class, teachers will encourage their students to speak up and share their knowledge, beliefs, and opinions. They want to motivate everyone to participate in the discussions to create an environment in which everyone feels safe enough to express themselves. However, in the last months—or even before that—we have noticed we are living in a time and age in which everyone feels entitled to express their opinion no matter the damage they may be causing.
One of the most important things we need to remember when engaging in a discussion or a tranquil conversation is to put respect above anything else. This is something teachers should mention repeatedly when opening the floor for debate during their classes. No matter what you think or what your beliefs are, you cannot disrespect someone else with the sole purpose of making your voice be heard.
As the fight for Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ rights expand, many have felt their identity has been disrespected by their classmates as they talk about their thoughts. It is important for teachers to be unbiased and act as mediators in scenarios like this. They should be the ones to put an end to the discussion, debate, or conversation if things get out of hand and one of the parties feels invalidated or disrespected.
We all want to be able to express ourselves, make our voices be heard, and share our beliefs with those around us. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You have the right to voice your opinions...as long as they do not attack another person’s existence. At the end of the day, everyone is valid and your values should not eradicate who they are or what they stand for.
Although teachers should always be in control of these kinds of situations, students need to be responsible for their own actions. They should always present their arguments with respect, holding themselves accountable for what they are saying, and accepting to educate themselves further on topics they do not have enough knowledge of. Not one single person holds the answers for everything, but we do all hold the control over the way we can make those around us feel. Keep in mind that you would not want to be disrespected either.
I encourage everyone to have tough conversations. To raise their voices when they feel unheard. To speak up in situations of injustice. To promote discussions. To express themselves. We need to start these conversations in order to promote change and to motivate others to educate themselves. But no matter the case, no matter what we are talking about, we always need to speak to others the way we would want them to speak to us. We want to be respected, so we need to respect others. Respect comes above anything else.
As a student, what can you do to promote respect in your classroom and among your friends? How can you help those who feel invalidated? And as a teacher, how can you moderate delicate debates keeping everyone respectful? How can you encourage your students to respect one another?