The Students Have Spoken: Will You Listen?

Can you imagine the CEO of any business ignoring his customers’ feedback? You know, like Steve Jobs in 2007 saying, “Hmmm. It seems there is an overwhelming demand for this revolutionary iPhone we just created, but I say we scratch the crazy idea and instead manufacture the first-ever backpack computer and printer set.” Well, thank goodness the Apple executives listened to their customers because I am not so sure ten pounds of mobile computing and printing power hanging from my stressed-out shoulders would have been too user-friendly. Unless the extra weight would have tugged out a little unwanted tension.

All ludicrous jokes aside, isn’t this how some educational institutions operate? Totally unaware of students’ opinions about the very aspect of their own lives that will impact them the most? What might the educators excuses be? Too little time? Too many papers to grade? Unwillingness to learn something new? Fear of being knocked off the sage-on-the-stage pedestal? An allegiance to out-dated and inflexible lesson plans? Fear of facilitating a class full of learning noise and having it mistaken by administrators as chaos? Or, plain ole professional stagnation due to a detachment from the ever-burgeoning world of the connected, 21st Century Educator?

But please excuse my lack of manners. I should not be treating readers like participants in a twenty questions session.

Instead, I got an idea. Let’s just ask the students some questions. Got time to listen?

The Questions

  1. If you could improve public education, what three changes would you make?
  2. If you were a school principal, what types of teachers would you hire?
  3. If you were a school principal, what types of teachers would you fire?
  4. Do you believe smartphones should be allowed in school?
  5. How can all teachers integrate students’ passions/talents/interests into their curricula?
  6. What are your passions/talents/interests?
  7. Please describe your future plans.

Interview #1: Meet Claudia and Hannah

Talk about talent…these two students are artists, writers, speakers, visionaries, and leaders. I am humbled and honored to listen to their honest and forward-thinking ideas.

Interview #2: Meet Andrew

Seriously, this student may be the next Steven Spielberg. For his first project in Studio 113 this year, he and his team of six produced a 25-minute movie with special effects and multiple camera angles. They have since started an afterschool, movie-making club that is reminiscent of the excitement exhibited by Mr. Keating’s students in The Dead Poets Society. Carpe Diem, anyone?

Make sure you stick around until the end to see the cinematographic gadgets Andrew created.

I know, I know. Reading this blog post and listening to these students takes at least thirty minutes, and I thank you for that. You undoubtedly are a passionate and connected educator who is willing to listen to the voices that matter the most…the students.

Of course, some educators probably did not hang around long enough to hear these customers’ feedback. They probably needed to save some energy.

After all, backpack computer and printer sets are exhausting to carry.

For more blogs by John Hardison, check out:

John Hardison

John Hardison is an interactive facilitator of learning and blended learning specialist at East Hall High School (Studio 113 & EPiCC).

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1 Comment

Rodney Wyrosdick

Likely you have some good ideas there but I'm not sure if you will reach your intended audience with a somewhat negative vibe you have there at the beginning of the article. Educators are tired of the negative and I'm sure you know as an educator that it all goes downhill once in negative territory.

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