Edit: the video has been pulled by the user which I am sad about. It was 1 minute 30 seconds of a student asking a teacher to please teach them better than she was, that they did not want anymore packets and that she had to get them excited and to touch their hearts. He then leaves the room after the teacher keeps telling him to. He does this without swearing or raising his voice.
Edit 2: The video is back up on Gawker
The video was posted on Reddit, I saw it this afternoon and immediately knew that I had to react it. And while I do not know the backstory, I do not know this kid, or his teacher, or what the context was for this particular moment, I do know that I think this kid has courage.
If it is true that all he has been doing is packets since he got there then he has the right to stand up in a respectful manner and demand a better education. It is what I teach my students every day; their voice matters because they are the ones we are doing this to. And this kid, Jeff, he did it. He stood up to a teacher without screaming, not really swearing, and asked her to touch their hearts. To not treat them like a paycheck. To make them excited and not sit behind a desk. And then he left, just like she asked.
I cannot imagine the anger that must have built up for a kid to stand up to his teacher in this way. I cannot imagine the courage it must have taken. Courage to stand up against a system, courage to demand a better educational experience, and yes, courage to defy the determined authority and stand up for his own desire to have a better class.
I wish more students would stand up to the system, in a respectful manner, and let their voices be heard. Students in America have the right to be angry about what is happening to them in their classroom, I am glad someone is finally speaking out. We have silenced the voices of our students for too many years, we have not invited them into the educational debate even though it is being done to them. Even though every decision we make as a teacher directly effects their lives and their future. Jeff gets that and he has had enough. I hope others figure out that they have to. Us teachers cannot be the only voices demanding a change.