20 Things Students Want the Nation to Know About Education

| September 29, 2011 | 16 Comments
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NBC

I had the pleasure of spending time with The Innovative Educator blogger Lisa Nielsen at Education Nation conference in New York earlier this week. In addition to the insightful questions and comments she posted on her prolific Twitter stream, Nielsen wrote a great summary of the last panel of the two-day event. Here it is:

By Lisa Nielson

It’s rare for education reformers, policymakers, and funders to listen to those at the heart of education reform work: the students. In fact Ann Curry, who hosted Education Nation’s first *student panel, admitted that folks at NBC were a little nervous about putting kids on stage. In their “Voices of a Generation” discussion, young people provided insight into their own experiences with education and what they think needs to be done to ensure that every student receives a world-class education. After the discussion, Curry knew these students didn’t disappoint. She told viewers: “Students wanted to say something that made a difference to you (adults) and they did. Now adults need to listen.”

Below are the sentiments shared by these current and former students during the segment.

  1. I have to critically think in college, but your tests don’t teach me that.
  2. We learn in different ways at different rates.
  3. I can’t learn from you if you are not willing to connect with me.
  4. Teaching by the book is not teaching. It’s just talking.
  5. Caring about each student is more important than teaching the class.
  6. Every young person has a dream. Your job is to help bring us closer to our dreams.
  7. We need more than teachers. We need life coaches.
  8. The community should become more involved in schools.
  9. Even if you don’t want to be a teacher, you can offer a student an apprenticeship.
  10. Us youth love all the new technologies that come out. When you acknowledge this and use technology in your teaching it makes learning much more interesting.
  11. You should be trained not just in teaching but also in counseling.
  12. Tell me something good that I’m doing so that I can keep growing in that.
  13. When you can feel like a family member it helps so much.
  14. We appreciate when you connect with us in our worlds such as the teacher who provided us with extra help using Xbox and Skype.
  15. Our teachers have too many students to enable them to connect with us in they way we need them to.
  16. Bring the electives that we are actually interested in back to school. Things like drama, art, cooking, music.
  17. Education leaders, teachers, funders, and policy makers need to start listening to student voice in all areas including teacher evaluations.
  18. You need to use tools in the classroom that we use in the real world like Facebook, email, and other tools we use to connect and communicate.
  19. You need to love a student before you can teach a student.
  20. We do tests to make teachers look good and the school look good, but we know they don’t help us to learn what’s important to us.
The students are ready to talk to us.  How are we going to make time to listen and incorporate their voices into the policies and decisions that affect them?
*Panelists:
Nnamdi Asomugha, Cornerback – Philadelphia Eagles
Shadrack Boayke – Brentwook, NY
Colton Bradford – Mobile, AL
Ron Daldine – Auburn Hills, MI
Rayla Gaddy – Detroit, MI
Katie Oliveria – Las Vegas, NV
Stephanie Torres – New York, NY
You can watch the entire panel discussion here.

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  • Fred Wolfe

    Outstanding article. These students have a lot of insight. Some of our education and political “experts” need to read this article and reflect.

  • http://www.careerwithonlinedegrees.com Online Degree Programs

    The overall article is well written but for some reason didn’t understand the idea of implementing social media tools like Face Book into studies. I wonder if it’s really gonna help students in their education since Face Book hasn’t proven to be good for education.

  • ncborn

    Nodding especially to bringing back the electives, and also bringing back foreign languages. I know that many schools around me have entirely let go all teachers of foreign languages not including Spanish and French. Limiting education won’t help this economy and this nation in the long run.

  • Just some student

    I can understand as a student how I would like to learn things like cooking, art and others. But how is this going to help prepare me for my future career when it’s not in cooking or art? I’ve talked to my advisers and they have mentioned that business come to them asking to have more structured classes and schedules because in the corporate wold that’s what is to be expected. Are we learning just to learn, or are we wanting to learn for a purpose? I agree with Mr. Wolfe but also the business we want to hire us would need to read this article as well.

  • Scrawford518

    I really think that it is important to ask the students what is important to them and what they notice, because I think they know a lot more than we give them credit for (such as understanding that standardized testing and teaching by the book are not beneficial to them).  I thought the comment about teachers being trained in counseling as well as teaching was an interesting point.  It actually seems to me a beneficial idea, because then maybe we could understand our students more and train ourselves to identify the problem with “difficult” students rather than jump to conclusions based on assumptions.  One of the statements struck a chord with me, “You need to love a student before you can teach a student”.  I would counter this by replacing the word “love” with the word “respect”.  Just as you don’t love every person you come in contact with, you might not love every student, but as a teacher, it is our job to respect students and do everything we can to teach them no matter what.

  • wf

    Teachers cannot be everything. They cannot be trained in counseling, because counseling in more in depth, this is why we have counselors. Train a teacher as a counselor, pay them more. They will be taking on extra risks by counseling students. I understand the idea of bring in technology into the class, however, colleges don’t bend for students as much as people insist high schools should. High school are preparing students for college, college is textbook centered, not social media centered. What are we truly preparing them for if we cater to their every whim?

  • Hypatia

    The feedback given by these students fall into a wide spectrum of roles and responsibilities of teachers.  Teachers do have some basic training in counseling; however, to ask teachers to be their counselors is placing teachers in an entirely different professional position.  Schools have guidance counselors, psychologists, or social workers for students who are in need of such services.

    I appreciate the responses students gave here; but as another poster has already mentioned, we cannot cater to each of their whim.  I would not expect a teacher of college prep courses to focus solely on connecting with students on a deep personal level when the more vital issue is to challenge them to think critically.

    Finally, kids these days are way more tech savvy than some of us realize; the majority of them have already demonstrated their competence with the use of cell phones.  Let them explore Facebook and other technological tools on their own, and teach them real academic curriculum in classrooms.

  • hmsenior

    typo…

    In #10, it should be “we” instead of “us”

  • Mr. G

    It seems like these students are telling us that schools and teaching have become dangerously irrelevant.

    How well are we listening to them?

    What is our evidence that we are/are not?

  • Sandoz

    Caring about students is most important, loving them, helping them reach their dreams. Really sweet sentiments. Maybe these students need to take this up with administrations, parents, and policy makers who want to do nothing but focus on meaningless test scores? I really dislike the way these “tug at the heart, fog the mind” sentiments from children are always aimed at the teachers. Wake up, everyone- if anyone actually listened to teachers, we wouldn’t have the problems these kids are reacting against in the first place. Sadly, no one cares what teachers think is right for our schools.

  • Sandoz

    Caring about students is most important, loving them, helping them reach their dreams. Really sweet sentiments. Maybe these students need to take this up with administrations, parents, and policy makers who want to do nothing but focus on meaningless test scores? I really dislike the way these “tug at the heart, fog the mind” sentiments from children are always aimed at the teachers. Wake up, everyone- if anyone actually listened to teachers, we wouldn’t have the problems these kids are reacting against in the first place. Sadly, no one cares what teachers think is right for our schools.

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