Wit & Wisdom

Game Changers & Tales of Triumph and Woe

How would students rethink education? The list may surprise.

CJ Westerberg, March 6, 2012 2:21 PM

garden.jpg

Ed. Note:  Wonderful post.  Student voice.  - C.J. Westerberg

 "A school garden"

How Would Students Rethink Education?


by John T. Spencer
 
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.

###

John T. Spencer is a teacher in Phoenix Arizona who blogs at Education Rethink, Cooperative Catalyst (where this post first appeared), and Teach Paperless.  His bio statement: "I teach. I write. I live. I want to do all three authentically."


Published The Daily Riff August 2011

Related:
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


  • I look at this list and see technology as only one element of the mix, yet many items on the list could possibly include tech to facilitate.

    Yet, not necessarily.

  • This is a great list! I would have liked the things on this list when I was a public school student.

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