7th Grader Shares What School Should Be Like

By: McKinley, 7th grade student in Bethesda, MD 
In elementary school, school was so much fun. For everyone. It was interactive, we worked in groups, it was fun and exciting. Every day I learned something new and did something fun. Then I went to middle school. It was the opposite of elementary school. Classes were boring, there were no fun activities, even some of the teachers seemed disinterested. There were some days when I came home and my mom asked me what I learned in school that day. I replied honestly, “I forget,” or, “I don’t know.” Nothing was interesting enough to capture my attention. I found myself liking school less and less, and everyone I know agreed with me. This is what it would take for me to like school again.
In middle school, we don’t really do projects anymore. My teachers’ idea of a project is writing a long, boring paper about a slightly irrelevant topic that nobody really cares about. This is not how it should be. Projects should be creative and engaging, where people work in groups and make something very creative that relates to what they’re learning about. This will help solidify what they’re learning in a different way, and because kids are in groups, they can help each other and end up having more fun than they would have if they were working alone. Speaking of groups, working in groups is very important. If kids sit in groups instead of rows, they will learn how to work together, get help from each other, and be more engaged because everything is way more fun when you’re with your friends!
School should be more interactive. Lessons should involve everyone in the class to ensure that everyone is engaged and learning. We should play lots of games and do other fun things where you actually have to think and be involved. There should be little to no worksheets. Worksheets should only be used to reinforce another activity or to capture ideas from research. There should be a good balance between figuring things out on your own and a teacher explaining things. For example, a teacher could put up a new math problem on the board, and using what you know, you try to figure it out by yourself. Then you could get in groups and share ideas, which will take what you’re thinking even further. After that, the teacher will explain the correct way to solve the problem. This will teach kids how to think instead of just being told things, but in the end they will also know the correct way to do it and will learn even more about the topic.
Kids and teachers should have a real relationship. Kids will learn better if they feel they know who their teachers are and their teachers know who they are. If teachers really know who their kids are and what they like to do, they can adjust their lessons to make them more engaging. Also, it feels good to have a teacher really know you, and it puts kids in a more comfortable environment. If kids feel very comfortable and free to be themselves, they are more involved in the lesson which will take their learning experience further. The classroom environment should be very low pressure. Everyone should know that it’s okay to get an answer wrong, and that everyone’s ideas are appreciated and useful in discussions. Teachers should make sure that kids are comfortable with the material before giving tests, and they should really prepare the kids for the test and tell them what the test will be like before they take it. Also, they should only assign a little bit of homework, and only assign it when it’s absolutely necessary. Homework doesn’t do very much. People say it cements what kids learn in class, but kids are so focused on just getting it done that they don’t try their best. Most of the learning should take place at school. That’s the whole purpose of going to school- to learn. Homework is just another reason that kids really dislike school. We should have a lot less.
Having school be engaging and interactive is much more important than people think. People say that the sole purpose of school is to learn, and that’s true. But how are we supposed to learn if we’re bored all the time? We should be excited about school. We should play games and do fun projects and cool activities. This will help everyone learn more and will make kids actually happy about going to school. That is how it should be.
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Brian K.

As a middle school teacher, I have points of agreement and disagreement with this editorial. I want classes to be interesting and engaging, but there are several issues that make that quite difficult.
In middle school, you are now only two years removed from high school. The job of high school is to prepare you for college and/or career. The job I have have is to prepare students for high school. Middle school teachers are constantly compared to the "fun" elementary teachers, but the preparation of students is different. We are dealing with more rigorous material, to prepare students for the more difficult, and more independent, high school and college work.
Secondly, middle school curriculum requires teachers to push more and more required elements into the school year, thus not allowing for time to be spend on the more "fun" activities. Much of what is required of us is required for my students to pass state standardized tests.
Middle school does have a different set of requirements and methods.. Unfortunately, not everything can be taught with games and group work. We have to teach real life skills and work that can be taken into the adult work world.

Valerie Lynn

Although I agree there should be group projects and report after report does nothing but bore people...saying everything about learning should be fun is like saying my job at the office should be fun - im not saying all work is boring but be realistic everything in life is not fun but it still needs to be done.
A balance of work and play is needed for children but as children between teens less play, and more work to show they are 1 paying attention, 2 learning the required material and 3 able to present that material in a constructive clear manner is expected.
If you dont start that transition in middle school highschool will come as a BIG shock at an age when defiance is at an all time high thanks to the hormones of most teenagers.

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