About This Show
Conversations about critical digital pedagogy, hosted by Chris Friend. From the makers of Hybrid Pedagogy—a digital journal of learning, teaching, and technology. We interview authors, educators, and provocateurs who challenge us all to become better teachers and learners.
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Giving Voice to Written Words
Writers should talk more. We write to make ourselves heard. We use writing to tell a story, contribute to conversations, add our voices to a chorus, raise the alarm against injustice, call for help. Readers, then, look for a strong voice from authors or get emotional over a text that speaks to them. In each of these cases, text evokes a sound. Indeed, the very word audience originates from the Latin word meaning “to hear”, same as the word “audio”. Writing allows us, in a fashion, to hear words and language. As we read, we recreate what the words might sound like in our voices, rather than exactly how they sounded to the writer. Reading transforms print into sound, even if it’s all internal.
This is a call for authors to make more noise with their writing. I mean that literally: Use vocal sounds to convey words, not just letters on a page. Let readers become listeners. Tell your story to their ears. Spoken word demands a synchrony of attention that written words cannot duplicate. When confronted with written text, we can skip, skim, scan, and speed-read. With audible speech, while we can skip to a different spot in a recording, we then lose all the content we skipped; there’s no way to get an overview of spoken text. While at first this may seem a limitation, I believe the opposite: Spoken text offers an opportunity for richer involvement with the content than the printed word ever provides. Jonathan Sircy discussed this idea in the context of teachers reviewing student papers in an article on Hybrid Pedagogy titled “Faithful Listening”. In it, he explains how listening to student work creates a more genuine appreciation of their texts.
Writing teachers, especially those in K-12 schools, often work to help their students develop a voice in their writing. (I would argue that academic writing is often specifically intended to eliminate that voice, but that’s an issue for another time.) Writers who express their voice use words distinctly and purposefully, crafting a unique style recognizable as their own. But why do we limit ourselves like this? Our perception of writing should expand to include the spoken word, not just the written. We deserve to hear one another’s meaning.
The sound of language helps readers. I’ve been an avid fan of audiobooks for decades; my blind grandfather got me hooked on