Theses Doctoral

Powerful Voicings: The Exercise of Voice at an Anarchist-Inspired Alternative School

Danovitch, Roy Noah

This qualitative case study explored the development and exercise of voice at City Workshop, an anarchist-inspired alternative school for middle and high school students. Drawing from the dialogic tradition, I defined student voice as the complex and varied ways students express understanding, make themselves heard, and exercise agency over their educational experiences. In this study, I sought to move beyond traditional approaches to student voice that frame its meaning in instrumental terms and focus instead on its ontological and political dimensions. Through individual and focus group interviews, participant observations, document analysis, and a grounded theory approach to data analysis, I examined how students at City Workshop exercise their voices and how the educational practices of the school empower student voice.

This study’s findings revealed the scope and power of student voice extended far beyond its practical effects. As demonstrated through the study, student voice was embodied in things students said, things they did not say, patterns of listening and dialogue, and even the environment itself. Relatedly, I learned student voice is empowered through dialogic governance and relational pedagogy, practices that invite students to play more meaningful roles as both individuals, learners, and community members. I also found City Workshop empowered voice by encouraging students to engage with issues of equity, power, and justice across a wide variety of settings and contexts, while dismantling barriers that restrict participation and engagement. Finally, the significance of this study lies in the attention it draws to the viability of experimental, dialogic approaches to schooling rooted in anarchist-inspired traditions and committed to broader educational transformation.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Interdisciplinary Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Laverty, Megan
Douglass Horsford, Sonya
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 29, 2020