DANCING TOGETHER: A CONVERSATION ABOUT YOUTH AND ADULT RELATIONAL AUTHORITY IN THE CONTEXT OF EDUCATION
Some ideas about authority in educational settings assume that authority is something that teachers possess and students don’t. Like others, the authors of this article conceive authority as shared. Shared authority occurs when the teacher recognizes students’ history and uses her or his authority to bring students’ knowledge, and thus their authority of knowing, to the learning. In this way, authority emerges in dialogical relationships between teachers and students. As three university educators in different contexts, we teach adults who will work with youth. Through dialogue and reflection of our attempts to implement the philosophies and practices that promote more meaningful interactions between adults and youth, we have come to recognize that each of us use authority differently at different times depending on the context. So we now use the term situational authority to describe how we seek to share authority. We invite those who work with youth to join us in these conversations and reflections as we investigate the sharing of authority within youth-adult interactions. We believe situational authority can transform power relations between adults and youth, while encouraging the emergence of new emancipatory relationships within, and amongst, youth. Together we explore ways in which situational authority invites, and supports, emancipatory practice.
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