What Kids Want Out of School

| January 31, 2014 | 9 Comments
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When we consider what kids need from school, we often revert to getting advice from experts – researchers, parents, teachers, principals, administrators. Rarely do we have the chance to hear from students about what they want from their school experience. While out reporting on different stories, NPR Education correspondent Eric Westervelt and I took the opportunity to capture students’ voices. Here’s what they said.


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  • Kaylee Hamelink

    I am a college students at Athens State University in Alabama. While I was listening to this, I realized that these students were saying things that I always wanted in school. I want to be able to incorporate all of the things that these students listed into my future classroom. One common thing that I noticed the students said was they wanted learning to be more fun and less boring. To do that the students wanted the teacher to do more than just talk all the time. This article inspired me to push even harder to be the best teacher I can be in the future and to meet the wants and needs of students.

  • MikeSadofsky

    These kids want what kids get at Sudbury Valley School http://www.sudval.org

  • Bruce Smith

    It’s a shame that listening to students should be an unusual angle for a
    story. I was slightly disappointed as well at the line, “they actually
    had some good ideas.” The idea that young people have “a hunger for
    learning,” that they want “the opportunity to weigh in” and have their
    learning be relevant to their lives is hardly new either.

    Like Mike Sadofsky already said, students at Sudbury schools have been
    getting this kind of opportunity for decades. I’ve worked at one in
    Denver (http://alpinevalleyschool.com) since 1998, and I know “what can
    be done to improve schools”: let students’ innate curiosity, creativity,
    and drive to master their environment be the guiding force in their
    education. Let them practice life now, respect and empower them now.
    Given control over their learning and a say in how their school’s run,
    young people will figure out who they are, what they want, and how to
    achieve their dreams.

    Incidentally, KQED, there’s a Sudbury school in your neighborhood, in Concord: http://www.diablovalleyschool.org. I encourage you to go check them out.

    • tbarseghian

      Thanks for your thoughts Bruce. The point of capturing these students’ voices was precisely because they’re rarely heard in media coverage of education. And these ideas might not be new at exceptional schools like Sudbury, which we’ve covered here on MindShift, but for the most part they’re rare in most public schools, and those are the student voices heard in this recording.
      And thanks for the tip about Diablo Valley School. We’ll definitely look into it!

      • Bruce Smith

        Thanks for the reply. I hope I didn’t come across as overly critical of the story itself: it’s more society’s general attitudes toward youth and education that tend to frustrate me. I definitely appreciate your willingness to cover Sudbury schooling and to give a voice to young people wherever they happen to be. Listening to and respecting our youth is absolutely imperative if we’re to make any real difference in their lives.

        • tbarseghian

          Completely agree! Hope to get even more student voices in our coverage.

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