Here’s What I’d Change About School

Dear readers:

There are some exciting developments happening at Classroom as Microcosm.  The last week has seen a major uptick in traffic, not least because a recent post, Fail Better, was chosen as a WordPress Freshly Pressed feature and so attracted a whole bunch of new followers and, at last count, 228 comments – welcome and thank you!

In the meantime, I have received lots of interesting and articulate responses to a question I posed to student readers: what would you change about school?  I’d still love to know what you think about this topic – please hop over to the post and leave your comments – but in the meantime, several readers have agreed to let me publish their answers as posts, for your consideration and discussion.

Accordingly, next week I will run five posts from five students, in which they explain what they would change about school if they were Supreme Leaders of the Universe.  Look out for Emily’s post on Monday, in which she tells us her problem with school: it’s just not challenging enough.

Image by Julien Tromeur

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12 responses

  1. Jan, I read your post and you have made some very interesting points! (And I’m a teacher!). Thanks for sharing this, and please know that not ALL teachers want you to think like them, not all teachers are stuck in the rut of ‘content’ instead of ‘learning’…..I tried not to be….but I was a language teacher, not a biology or math teacher. We don’t have the same challenges. Math teachers you abstract thinking which can be transferred to any subject to any life situation. So it’s useful….but I do agree that the educational system, both in America and Canada, is not doing so well….

  2. I’m excited to hear what the students have to say! As a teacher, my number one complaint would be ineffective administrators. (The principal at my school has never seen me teach, yet she makes curriculum and instruction decisions.)*

    • Totally agre!! My principal has been at my school three years and today was actually the first time he stepped foot into my classroom. The admins need a kick in the you know whats!

      • Oh yeah….while administrators are often former teachers, I’ve always been surprised at how quickly they FORGET the realities of the classroom! At least yours visited your class…..some never do! Keep the faith and just keep doing the best you can!

    • I could not agree with you more Amy- on both points. Really looking forward to the student point of view- often students make unrealistic requests when posed a question like this, but with maturity, and perhaps a little adult-translation, real and raw truths can be heard.

  3. I am anxious to hear from the students! Their insights will be very useful to all educators–if we are not learning together and talking about learning together, how can things improve? Thanks for providing the forum.

    On a different note: I am sorry to hear that some teachers are not feeling the support or insight that can be provided by administrators. You guessed it, I have been a dean at a community college for about 10 years. One of my favorite things is observing faculty in action with students; talking about teaching comes next. I feel very lucky that a couple times I was even able to step back into the classroom as the teacher. Effective learning takes a village–learner, teacher and administrator (and many others!) who work together to help facilitate learning. I wish I could help all administrators provide effective service and support.

    • Patti: I believe you’ve also been a teacher, yes? I think this makes a big difference. I’m amazed at the number of administrators who have not been in the classroom and don’t seem anxious to learn what really goes on in there. Non-teachers can make terrific administrators if they have the openness and curiosity, but some seem to feel that their jobs would be a lot easier if it weren’t for all the pesky teachers and students.

  4. Hello, I am a recent college graduate looking for some insight. I studied engineering, but now I have been working at a tutoring center for over two years. I was hoping to absorb as much knowledge as I can from everywhere about this strange murky field known as education. I muddled over this topic of “improvement” (the definition varies tremendously, interestingly enough) with a couple of educators, professors, policy makers, etc, and there seems to be a distinct lack of communication. Just from a glance at the news or talking briefly with various people, the different groups are not talking, let alone trying to understand one another. Policy makers are not particularly fond of interjection from teachers or researchers or parents, and I have come to realize that my teaching does not always necessarily constitute learning for my students (which I attribute to my lack of experience, that I may stay in high spirits!). Even teachers don’t get along with other teachers. However, I did observe that the teacher, more often than not, as a concept and in practice, is at the center of all discussion. After all, the work of the teacher has profound, immeasurable effects on the students, for whom this system was created for. Therefore, I’m all for hearing what the students have to say. I’m encouraged to see that you give your students a voice (an amazingly motivational tool)! I believe what you are doing is a step in the right direction and hope that this will encourage all parties involved to join the discussion.

    • Polyglotalize: what an interesting situation you find yourself in! I worked in tutoring centres before I became a CEGEP teacher, and it gives one a useful perspective on the educational machine. I agree that there is a lack of cohesiveness and empathy amongst the various participants. I hope you will find the students’ ideas illuminating.

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