Listen & Hear

Image description: a photograph of an empty classroom, with a row of tables and chairs and a blank chalkboard. A waveform overlays the photo.

These three pieces can be understood as a series of audio collages inspired by the Education Narratives Project collection, bringing together the perspectives of educators and education leaders from many learning environments, including public schools, early learning centers, childcare programs, and independent schools. 

Like a collage, each piece holds both connection and tension.

In another way, each piece is a collective time capsule that aligns with the collection’s three phases: initial school closures (March-June 2020), planning for Fall (July-August 2020), and the launch of the 2020-2021 school year (September-December 2020). As the project has unfolded, many narrators have listened back to excerpts from previous interviews and remarked at shifts in their perspective. In these pieces, you can hear these changes and occasional contradictions as each narrator makes meaning out of the evolving landscape of education and public health.

All three pieces could be assembled in countless ways, and each speaks to my unique interpretation of the dozens of voices within our collection. Each listener would probably create a different piece given the same materials, and even my future self would likely create a different piece with time and distance from this era. I invite you to listen to the full collection in the Community Library of Voice and Sound and imagine the unique hues and textures of your own collage. 

If people are not in education, I don’t tell them the details. You know aside from the occasional newspaper article, it’s not shared, it’s not revealed. Teachers already are not exactly revered in this country or culture. Although I guess we’re revered as martyrs. I don’t actually want to hear that.

Education Narratives Project teacher

Echoing the narrator whose words opened this site, these pieces aim to honor the agency of these educators as historical authors and actors, even in the moments when their wellbeing and livelihoods were shaped by forces outside of their control. Even amid uncertainty and the absence of systemic care, many of these educators modeled solidarity and mutual aid. In listening to their stories about caring for each other, advocating for their needs, and witnessing societal fault-lines, listeners are invited to reflect on the conditions needed for a more caring and just education system.

Ready to listen to the impact of school closings? Go to Phase 1 Listening.