Confrontational Discourse and the Working-Class Student: Student Voice, Teacher Authority, and Community Engagement

  • Kelsey Butler University of Minnesota - Morris


The conversation regarding the level of engagement of working-class students in the composition classroom is a relatively new one. Recent arguments place the onus for success entirely on the principle of critical pedagogy, i.e., solely on the educator. This principle leaves little room for student voice, and in fact favors academic discourse. As a result, students unaccustomed to the discourse are offered an ultimatum: choose or be left behind. In this essay, I argue that students need not discard home discourse, but must develop the ability to negotiate between multiple discourses. In addition, I explore the complications that ensue from such a confrontation, as well as suggest a framework for managing the interactions between student voice, teacher authority, and community practice.