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What is the role of the student in the classroom today?

Much conversation has taken place regarding the failure of education and the failure of the teacher in the classroom. What role does the student have in their own learning as he or she travels through the education system? Or does the student play any part in their own education? Does the student hold any responsibility in the failure of education?

In a perfect world, what would the ideal student look like in today's world?

Specific examples are most appreciated rather than general thoughts and assumptions.

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    May 10 2013: This is a great question. I believe the most important value in life is courage. The student must act with courage, for instance it takes courage to ask an unusual question.
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    May 12 2013: Currently, a student's education is facilitated and the student is expected to perform as he or she has been taught. In my opinion, we need make students be the stakeholders in their own education. Students cannot be held responsible for the failure of their education currently because they have no say in what they are learning and how they are taught. If students were made stakeholders in their education and actually were able to give input into their education, then we would have a better student and education system which holds the student accountable for his or her learning. This would also allow for more creativity and a tailored education for the student to learn and maximize his or her potential.
  • May 11 2013: American Indian author/educator/professor, Four Arrows, offers REASONS for why schooling fails true goals AND offers ways to achieve them.

    In his new book, endorsed by such notable educators as Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, etc., entitled, TEACHING TRULY: A CURRICULUM TO INDIGENIZE MAINSTREAM EDUCATION. After exposing hegemonic basis for curriculum and standards, he offers complementary and proven teaching and learning approaches that Indigenous cultures used for thousands of years prior to colonization. His internationally recognized work and his provacative and engaging presentations make him an ideal candidate for a TED talk! Go to to see why so many major and noted thinkers say that Four Arrows book may be "our last chance.
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    May 11 2013: First let me start with the classroom and thereby the curriculum - or more accurately the purpose of most curriculums - as presented in classrooms all around the world. For most people, the principle purpose of an education is "to get a job" and the better the education the better the "job". And the Educational part is supposed to provide a curriculum directed at promoting job readiness skills. Sure there will be all kinds of "other courses", but the core direction is entry into the job market and even a "career".

    Therefore, the role of the student would seem to be assimilating the skills and the knowledge base, leading to some sort of expertise that will ensure them becoming a contributing member of that "jobs" market. Perhaps even a leading producer of those "jobs" as an entrepreneur.

    However, if one is interested in why "jobs" is the primary purpose of an education, we need to look at the Industrial Revolution 300 years ago.
    The factories, businesses and counting houses all needed great numbers of workers that could read, write and do simple math in order to build, run and maintain the machines of industry as well as keeping the records of commerce. But only the aristocracy and the priests had those shills and they were busy with other things.

    So the masses had to be taught these skills, and only reading, writing and arithmetic mattered. Hence the 3R's we hear so much of today. And This is why we are saddled with a concept of "education" as simply leading to a "job" or a "career". Nothing about becoming an informed and empowered citizen. Nothing in the core curriculum about the various forms democracy can take on or in-depth comparisons of one's own and other systems of governance. No focus on ensuring our students becoming better communicators and problem solvers. Objective discourse vs polarized dogma.

    Too bad there are not nearly enough "JOBS" to go around and it really sucks that so many jobs become a boring way to spend one's days.
  • May 10 2013: Very true! Many of our students don't know what "true courage" is today. They think it is something very different based on the entertainment industry.
  • May 10 2013: To eventually learn how to learn the things you need to know to survive.

    An education should not just be acknowledgement that you know a set of things. it should be recognition that you have been trained to continue your own learning.
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    • May 10 2013: ZX I agree with your statement. Though for the purposes of this conversation, I would like to maintain the focus on the students as there are a large amount of conversations regarding teachers on TED at this time.
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    May 9 2013: At the end of the day the student is completely responsible for his education any thought to the contrary come from the nanny state. His job is to flourish or languish either way the choice is his. He first has to know that he doesn't know, he has to be interested and not interesting.
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    May 9 2013: Students cannot be expected to showcase the skills of a teacher. If that was the case we could have students teaching students.

    Students are obviously responsible for taking their education seriously. However, attitude reflects leadership.