How Would Students Rethink Education?
Last year in my Multimedia Authoring class, I asked students to create short projects on school reform. Their answers were far from revolutionary. In fact, few of them seemed to want broad, sweeping reforms. Instead, nearly all of them suggested the following:
- Better cafeteria food with real ingredients
- No school buses - nearly every child mentioned the bullying of bus rides as one of the reasons they hated school
- More choice in their assignments or projects
- Replace grades with feedback and portfolios (like we did in our class)
- Staggered start and end times so that the school would "feel smaller"
- More alternative sports in addition to the traditional ones
- Off-campus community service once a week
- Job-shadowing for one month of the year
- A monthly educational field trip
- iPads, netbooks or laptops in classes - they even brought up some interesting ways to raise money for these devices
- More freedom in terms of leaving to use the restroom, eating a snack or getting a drink of water
- More electives - while most of them agreed that we need math, they suggested that maybe they could choose pre-geometry or pre-algebra or in reading, they could have reading classes geared toward certain topics
- A school garden
While a few of those might seem large at first glance, the reality is that most students wanted more authenticity and more autonomy. None of the reforms they suggested involved "back to basics." None of them included firing all the teachers, either. Instead, they were small, fairly inexpensive reforms that could have been done without the blessing of a politician, pundit or educrat.
Published The Daily Riff August 2011
Bill & Melinda's Field Trips - plus Big Picture Learning
7 Steps for Smarter Schools - Big Picture Learning with Dennis Littky
High School Stinks - with Chris Lehman and Science Leadership Academy
The Daily Riff's "Person of the Year" in Education - Larry Rosenstock - High Tech High