Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 177–201 | Cite as

Architects, captains, and dreamers: Creating advisor roles that foster youth-adult partnerships

  • Dana MitraEmail author
  • Tiffanie Lewis
  • Felicia Sanders


While research has documented the many ways in which student voice can enable educational change, the process of how adults can help to enable student voice is less clear. This article examines how adults new to working as advisors of student voice initiatives begin to develop partnerships with young people. Using a Youth-Adult Partnership continuum as a framework, three cases represent a range of beliefs of student leadership. Using the archetypes of Captain, Dreamer, and Architect, the cases indicate how the adults began their work with youth with adult-centered, a student-centered, and an equilibrium approach, respectively. While the article highlights that adults must learn how to scaffold youth participation to help them to develop the leadership skills necessary to share in the work of the partnership, little training and materials exist for adults to learn how to scaffold learning. Part of this training includes the willingness for adults to recognize that they themselves need to change as well in order to facilitate youth leadership.


Student voice Youth-adult partnerships Civic engagement Leadership Partnership 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Educational Theory and PolicyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Research for Action 3701PhiladelphiaUSA

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