Be the change, education reform, Student-centered, voice

When Students Speak Do We Even Really Listen?

Get us out of our seats.  Less homework.  Not so many tests.  More projects, more hands-on, more fun.  All things students will tell you if you ask them how school should be.  All things we have heard for years and yet many of us have yet to react to them.  We chalk their statements up to students being lazy; they don’t want to work, that is why they want less homework.  They don’t know their curriculum so they don’t want to be tested on it.  I have too much to cover so they have to listen and stay in their seats while I lecture.  We have a plan, a program, and students are just another piece to plan for and to fit into everything we need to cover.  They are obstacles to be conquered, to be molded and shaped until they fit perfectly into our round holes whether they started out square or triangular.

So as the education debate rages and more and more voices join the discussion, I wonder why we don’t listen to the one that should carry the most weight; the student.  Where are the children at these meetings.  Where are the future generations?  Not even invited.  And I don’t mean just the high school students but the young ones, the ones that have just started school that still like to come, that still like to be excited, the ones that haven’t been burned by a system that progresses whether they are with it or not.   Those students should have a seat at the table and when they speak we should really listen.  We should stop with our excuses and our assumptions of why they say these things and want these changes.  We should listen to their message and then actually believe it.  Let them speak, let them be heard, and let us change.

It is possible to make school fun through projects and student choice.  It is possible to cut out homework and still cover everything you need to cover.  It is possible to not test and still know where your students are academically.  It is possible to stop talking and let them be the leaders, the guides, the teachers.  It is possible…if you believe in it.

3 thoughts on “When Students Speak Do We Even Really Listen?”

  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly, and I don't think it matters what grades the students are at. The act of asking them implies that we care. If we, as teachers, don't follow through on your suggestions/opinions, then what does that say about us? What does it say about how we think of them?

  2. Thanks for validating precisely my dissertation topic! How is this issue not at the foundation of "school improvement." Again, thanks!P.S. Thanks, in fact, for every post. Always relevant…

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