A Safe Space for Voice: Pune’s KER Chronicles
What does is take to get kids to express their voices? Many factors come to mind – supportive teachers, encouraging peers, natural charisma, psychological safety, or maybe just having something important say. Aarthi Seshadri from Teach for India, Pune, asked herself whether simply offering a platform for voices to be expressed is enough to actually encourage kids to open up. Thus, the KER Chronicles were born! These “chronicles” serve as completely voluntary spaces where students can sign up to share anything they want, including performances in music and dance, spoken word, project displays and more.
Local student, Shivkumar performing a hip hop dance routine!
Not only do these KER Chronicles embolden students to express their own unique voices, but they also foster the values of listening to and learning from one another. Kids and adults, performers and audience members are encouraged to ask questions, talk to each other, and form lasting networks.
Riza shows the audience some lovely crafts she created through the art of quilling. After the showcase, an eager young girl in the audience, Sakshi, connected with Riza over their shared love for this craft.
When asked about how these spaces turned out to be so successful with the number of performers and audience members increasing with each KER Chronicle, Aarthi talks of the importance of keeping the barriers to entry very low. “Any student can perform at KER Chronicles. Any student who has an idea or a story or a project that they’re already working on or that they want to work on, in any language and any medium they’re comfortable with. It could be a PowerPoint, a chart paper, or they could just sit and share, anything they want.” While we might not be able to definitively answer what truly fosters student voice, it sure does seem that enabling safe spaces for those voices to be expressed and heard is a step in the right direction.