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Everybody's Talking At Me

November 07,2016

Shirley Steinberg says the key to youth leadership is to listen to young people

By Betty Rice, Werklund School of Education

Associate Dean Sharon Friesen introduces Shirley Steinberg

Associate Dean Sharon Friesen introduces Shirley Steinberg.

Listen to Shirley Steinberg's Distinguished Research Lecture titled “What's Goin' On?  Respecting and supporting youth empowerment, not just talking/teaching about it.”

Listen to Shirley Steinberg's Distinguished Research Lecture titled “What's Goin' On?  Respecting and supporting youth empowerment, not just talking/teaching about it.”

John Willinsky, Professor at Stanford University served as respondent for Steinberg's lecture.

John Willinsky, Professor at Stanford University served as respondent for Steinberg's lecture.

What's goin' on?

That's the question Shirley Steinberg is asking.

The Werklund Research Professor of Critical Youth Studies, was selected as the 2016 Werklund Distinguished Research Lecturer. 

Her talk in late September actually had the full title, “What's Goin' On?  Respecting and supporting youth empowerment, not just talking/teaching about it.”

“The title of my presentation is taken from a Marvin Gaye song, which attempts to point out what we know and more importantly, what we don't know,” explains Steinberg.

Steinberg says that, when it comes to fostering youth leadership, many who work and research in the area of youth studies tend to talk “at” young people, rather than to engage them in a  manner in which they—the youth—are leading the dialogue.

“There is a propensity to create activities, to do presentations, to bring in experts,” she says.  “But what is missing is the pedagogical need to listen to youth, observe youth, and to facilitate spaces and venues for youth to take over and govern their own needs.”