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Ask Students How to Reform the Education System

To many people it is evident that the education system is in need of reform, so why not ask students what would help them learn better, and what they would like in the future curriculum. I know adults might think we are unable to think for ourselves, or make such decisions at young ages, but I disagree.

I want a school:

-with reasonable hours: If teachers complain about the amount of tardies and absences, wouldn't it just make sense to start school a little later so we will be well rested?

-with teachers who understand the subject and can effectively communicate it: My parents don't care that my teacher is terrible at teaching the subject, and frankly telling them that everyone has failed for this reason is nothing more than an excuse.

- where people care enough to give you all the help they can: because it seems like no one cares whether you pass or fail sometimes, and if no one believes in you why should you yourself.

- that is a little more organized: so we can get through our entire textbook in the first semester with a well enough understanding to pass the state tests.

- with a suggestion box: so I can give feedback on anything that I think might help me pass.

If you are a student, how would you like to reform the education system?

  • Nov 30 2011: Get teachers that love what they do... and are infectious..
  • Dec 4 2011: I strongly agree with this idea to reform education system thru students, having said that, students are also part of the problem in the education system. My point here is: as long as students continue buying degrees instead of getting knowledge, the problem will continue.

    Therefore we need to reform the students or their responsible about education first. In other words, let's practically demand better education, this itself leads to reform.

  • Dec 2 2011: After reading my own post (below?), it also reminds me:
    What needs to change is our children's core values. Gangasta/thug life should stop being glorified, the ridiculous expectations of what beauty is should be stopped, and the philosophy to teach abstinence instead of safe sex should stop immediately.
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      Dec 4 2011: Agree! The crucial factor is the moral principles of the students.
      Among the times has bees created, unfortunately, "the shield of the weakest". The smarter was putted below the dumbest. The good person at sports or at playing guitar was putted has the freak person who has dedicated all their lives doind just that. Envy, of course. But now it was installed in the modern society. And now the envy stereotypes are very common, like "geek" or "nerd". And, instead being respected, those people are joked.
      Most of young people don´t think fot their own heads these days. It seems no one does and that´s the problem.
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    Nov 30 2011: Utilize technology to make the learning process more interactive and exciting. Students have shown a much greater interest in their studies in schools that have gone with this approach.
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    Nov 29 2011: Frankly I don't think that students have the visibility within a society to make substantive decisions about education. Every society makes judgements about what is important for people to know in order to contribute to that society. The more rapidly a society changes, the greater the gap between what is taught and what is needed. Education is, for this reason, structured around basic things such as reading, math and most importantly the ability and desire to think for ones self.

    Reforming our system requires that we understand how it is failing. We have to admit that it has become a day care center that simply occupies our children's time and bears no resemblance to our real world needs. Reading writing and math are simple subjects that the average child has been shown to grasp by age 12. What we fail to do is engage our children beyond that in relevant topics such as how financial markets work, how our government works and how other governments around the world work and the discipline of evidence based critical thinking.

    Most of all we don't reward excellence in our schools. We try to make it impossible to fail. We standardize everything as if we were programming computers. Students who excel should be headlined and fast tracked and we have to admit that not everyone is a superstar. When I grew up, the smart kids were known and respected and they actually helped the slower ones along. The cool kids were the ones with slide rules in their back pocket and old cars that they had personally customized. They were revered for their ability to build and they weren't called "geeks". Now the less you know or the less you pretend to know, the cooler you are.

    As for how late school starts and how knowledgeable teachers are or how organized the system is, these things are symptoms of a system that has taken on a life of its own in the absence of parental demands. You don't find these problems in school districts where parents have a very active role.
  • Ryan M

    • +1
    Nov 29 2011: We need water fountains with a strong upwards stream that we can actually drink from. Thats the biggest issue with schools these days...
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    Dec 23 2011: Amina, I am not a student but I have a vested interest in schools as a coach and parent. I hear and see many things that are relevant to this conversation.

    My kids can work the problem but have no concept of application. It would be nice to have a practicum where a resident professional could demonstrate the value of the exercise.

    Each person learns at a different rate. Develop a system to allow each person to work at their rate with competency checks along the way. All students would work to a common goal.

    How about the kid who wants to be a welder to join the family business. He does not want to go to college. Devise a two tier circulum 1) college prep and; 2) manual trades.

    Todays kids are techno savvy. Use lap tops, hand held devices, games, etc ... it is how they learn.

    At the secondary level teachers should be associated with a college and be capable of awarding college credits to students who complete college classes.

    Empower the student if they are advanced allow them independent studies with set criteria for set credits.

    These are a few ideas. Hope they help. Thanks for the opportunity.
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    Dec 23 2011: As a student in Ontario, Canada, I'm actually quite pleased with our educational system. However, I have a complaint when it comes to social sciences. Here, we are obligated to take 1 history class throughout our entire high school. That is one mandatory social science class. This class comprises of World War I, II, and the Cold War. This is NOT enough. Our system needs to incorporate at least ONE politics class (I'd say the great majority of students here have NO idea how our country is run) and TWO more history classes.

    The availability of online courses for our students here is amazing. If I were to reform other education systems I would strongly recommend them... They allow advanced students to learn properly without distractions from students in class.

    Here, in Ontario, teachers are not allowed to fail students or to take off notes for works handed in late. This is my major complaint. It in no way teaches responsibility, or discipline. Many students slack because of this..
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    Dec 19 2011: Several thoughts:

    - It's important to have strong examples for students as to why graduating and moving on is important. I graduated from a high school with lots of minority students, too many of whom live with parents and other relatives that got "screwed" somehow and thus, don't serve as examples as to why doing well in school is important. Too many students felt like a diploma and post-secondary options were useless since they'd just end up in the same place anyways. A new principal took charge my freshman year who brought in an entirely new focus and served as a great role model for students. It's all about inspiration.

    - Students also need a reason to want to come to school. It's easy to slash money from budgets by cutting clubs, sports, and activities, but these are reasons students want to come to school. There were days when I came to class solely to attend a band function. There were other students that made sure they attended at least 80% of their classes so they could make it to rehearsals for the musical after school per school policy. Give students a reason to show up that's not connected to the classroom.

    - Either get rid of arbitrary standardized testing, or figure out a way to implement a nationwide testing system that actually works. I got sick of teachers trying to fulfill state-set goals and structuring their classes to merely "teach to the test." Education would be a lot more meaningful if teachers could focus on what they feel is relevant and important for their students to learn.
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    Dec 18 2011: First, are you just talking about American schools? If you are, those questions would be hard to answer as no two schools are exactly alike anywhere. Even in my county where we are following the overall same state standards, the approaches, teachers, curriculums and student populations (which does make a difference) are not the same. But if you mean world-wide, then most definitely there could not be one solution, for those systems are really diverse.

    However with that said, from the questions that you asked, I am not sure you are talking about "educational reform" the same way teachers are on every educational site I belong to as most of your concerns seem more like psychological nature- for example, starting later. So my question to you is this: If you (and your peers) really think that starting later would help (and I would look into what Minnesota has done in regards to this matter), why don't YOU and your peers and parents go to the school board meetings and try to change it?? And if you think you need help studying, why not suggest a mini-class that students could take and pair it up with another mini-class like ACT/SAT Prep? If you need extra help oustide of the classroom, are you telling me that no teachers have tutoring? Or that no math/English/National Honor Society groups have students who will help in an organized study group? If not,then why not ask your school and/or student government to begin one?

    And finally, what is with "that is a little more organized: so we can get through our entire textbook in the first semester with a well enough understanding to pass the state tests." Are they end of the year course subject exams or just a general knowledge test? If they are end of the course subject exams, is there a pattern of failures at your school as teachers are not covering all the information? If they are not, then that needs to be addressed, for that is educational.

    So why not YOU get this ball rolling? You know, one person CAN make a difference!
  • Dec 17 2011: I hadn't read all the conversation, but I totally agree in the idea that we should ask student how to reform schools!

    for instance in one of my school there were some violence, that would have been very important to fight against but no one matter.

    I also think that each time an idea would be proposed, we should say to the student how much it would cost in money for their parents... because if we dont do so, they may spent a lot and a lot of money.
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    Dec 16 2011: I don't know what it's like in other countries, but I feel like in Germany we focus too much on reciting what the teacher/textbook said instead of conveying knowledge and understanding. I wouldn't say that I'm a particularly smart student, but some of my classmates had absolutely no idea what they were doing or why, but still got excellent grades. And the teachers weren't much better. Either they didn't know how to communicate what they were doing, or they didn't want to, or they simply couldn't because there is not enough time to when there are 30 students.

    So let's make a list:
    -more teachers/smaller classes
    -teach them how to teach students something instead of simply presenting knowledge
    -teach the students how to study
    -make them understand instead of recite
    -and for god's sake make better textbooks. Textbooks can be good and at the same time fun to read. I know it. I read some that were good. But most of them are boring and don't encourage students to read them. Sometimes it seems as if the authors use their books rather to show other experts how smart they are instead of teaching students the curriculum
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      Dec 18 2011: Textbooks fun?? That is why I tend to stay away from them. ;-)

      BUT seriously, I think this topic is a hard one to answer, for every student who replies is coming from a different type of system. Yes, there may be a "pattern" to the responses, but overall, educational reform has to be within one's own district, county, or country.

      However, with that said, I have to tell you that I was surprised at some of your comments and especially these two: "teaching students how to study" and "make them understand instead of recite" as I have had many exchange students from Germany over the years, and they all have put my American students to shame with their styudy habits and analysis skills! And they were from all over the country! SO I am a bit confused!

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        Dec 19 2011: Your students are put to shame, because usually the ones taking part in an exchange programme are interested and part of the smarter half of the students. And I'm not even talking about 50% of the students, but 50% of the ones going to a "gymnasium". In the state I'm from and many others after elementary school students are separated into 3 kinds of schools. In rising order of educational level those are Hauptschule, Realschule and Gymnasium.
        So the ones you get to meet are part of the smartest and best educated quarter of students (assuming that 50% of students attend a Gymnasium, it's not a well researched number, but more or less accurate).
  • Dec 15 2011: @Ryan M -- Nov 29 2011: We need water fountains with a strong upwards stream that we can actually drink from. Thats the biggest issue with schools these days...
    Yes maybe the p*ss poor plumbing of Columbine can account for the atrocious deeds done that day. Maybe the TWO Virginia Tech shooters were just agitated by their thirst. And more than likely, Jared Loughner's schizophrenia and murders can be explained by dehydration.

    What the education system needs is a decent society to thrive in. The two, education and society, go hand in hand in their well-being. Education systems need increased funding to show that knowledge and creativity pays dividends over Hollywood's drug smuggling and psychotic behavior.
    The educators also need to drop their dogmatic and doctrinaire attitudes. They need open minds more than anybody if they want to saddle the full potential of young minds. I think I deviate from the general point of this conversation.
    I believe the original post was asking for down to earth points (not abstract ones like open mindedness). I think that it is different for each region of of the country. For example, I come from the South, Mississippi to be exact, and things are extremely bad here. I believe there would be a significant improvement in both performance and graduation rates if the hours were shifted to being later in the day. Yes, adequate funding would help the image of the schools to appear more house of education and less like a crack house. However Mississippi is a poor state and money will be an issue for a long time.
    The point from my last paragraph and concluding point, is the benefit of shifting high schools to operate during the hours of something like 10am and 5pm. It is still the same length of schooling per day, but the extra two hours of sleep have been proven to positively impact both attendance and performance in young adults. That is because the high school years are so vital to their physical and mental development.
  • Dec 13 2011: I disagree on the whole "study" thing. I was one of the considered "not too bright" and trust me it had nothing to do with studying or lack there of. I used the internet like everyone else, at times even better, I could racionalize and process things a lot better than most of my class and yet my grades were appauling. It has nothing to do with studying. It has to do with the way ones brain functions and the need for education to meet each childs need to progress in their own field. Those who need structure, which is the majority, thrive or at least manage to make it throught the educational system without great difficulty, those who need expantion, creativity dont and cant grow in the system implemented in our schools. I am a successful young adult now and trust me it had nothing to do with school. What helped me was to leave those walls and begin to live, being allowed the expantion and need for personal and intelectual growth.
    What our parents needed from school is no longer what we need, they could go through school and college and then get a job and keep it for the remainder of their working lives till retirment. We now cant expect such a reality. Education must be adaptable which then teaches its students to be so themselves. Give the child the means to discover what it is that moves them rather than focusing on test scores which say nothing about the persons true potential. How many of those great students I know now who are nothing in their lives... completely lost in the world, because they got used to that structure and once they met the real world they realised that structure here only exists in theory and they found themselves unable to sort their lives out through the mess. Its Great to be a bookworm, makes mommy and daddy proud, makes your ego inflate, makes you believe youve achieved something, but thats not at all practical for the times we live in. Dont create habits for the majority only, those "not too bright" are the true innovators...
    • Dec 14 2011: Take note that I was merely addressing the bias that the current system creates. I meant that all students are equal and the system labels them "not too bright". Mind you, I was also one of them.

      I wasn't advocating being a bookworm but far from it. Better students actually read less because they have better ways of learning.

      My Main Point:
      There are a million creative ways of learning(outside, indoors, at home, without books) and the current educational system is not teaching them.

      I also believe, like you, that the educational system needs to be more flexible. But education is not for getting a job. In the times we live in, people must be equipped with lot of knowledge. In some countries that are still at war, they will choose to rebuild societies from their students instead of counting on foreign help.

      I believe in a flexible(depending on a student's needs) and balanced structure.
      You believe in no structure. Which may be a good idea.
      The corrupt educational system is the enemy here.

      And also, how your life turns out really, really, depends on more than what kind of school structure you went through.
    • Dec 14 2011: Mohammad, I agree with your last point. I lived in a university town during my high school years, and while I can't speak on behalf of every school structure out there, I felt that a lot of what my high school did was linked to the university--not college-in-high-school programs but also opportunities to participate in university events and organizations as well as work with faculty members on research (though I'd say the last part was not promoted very much, at least from my perspective).

      To get to the point, I think that because of my school's link to the university, its educational system tended to promote outside learning as much as in-class learning, which ultimately was a huge advantage to the school and the students who went there.
  • Dec 13 2011: Okay, back home we have a different educational system, but I am telling you this problem affects most students out there.

    What most schools have are the teachers and the facilities to help the students study. And before this is the parental stage where the child learns basic manners and speech. The question is: At which point do we teach the students to "study"?

    You will see the better students marking down progress on index cards, using the internet, exercising their knowledge with mock tests. But ones we call "not too bright", they hear study and they think about reading their book or reading their notes. Today, the difference between an honor student and a lower marked student heavily depends on "how" the students study and manage what they learn. The one that have the advantage are the ones taught by their parents the essential learning techniques.

    I propose a whole new class on this. A class to teach learning styles, patterns and habits. It will go a long way in college and their lives. :D
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    Dec 13 2011: Education system vary from Country to country. So this is depend upon country. I live in India so there is big problem is Bookish knowledge is more prefer at compare to Practical knowledge. so first this should be changed. in USA practical knowledge is more prefer than Bookish. Class should be more familiar like Teachers should be Good And familiar . More sports help to made fresh Mind. E-library more prefer bcoz cost of Books are already hike. Teachers just all students are Equal. Student help each other.
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    Dec 13 2011: I'm an Engineering student who was practically thought nothing besides the theory from text books in the Bachelor's Program. In my opinion the only true learning process is practical one and nothing can define learning more than practical applications it implies.
    All that the teaching process needs is a creative boost and a practical outlook
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    Dec 13 2011: I'm a high school student, and I'd like to see more passionate and knowledgeable teachers.
    I don't mean that the teachers who are already teaching are not that passionate or knowledgeable. Not at all.
    In fact, I have some of the best teachers a student can ever ask for.
    What I'm saying is that teachers are really a big part of the learning experience--I cannot stress the importance enough, to be frank. The teachers count for most of the impression that a student gets for learning, education in general even.

    If teachers are passionate enough to put an extra hour on the paper explaining or helping out, sincere enough to chat outside the classroom, and willing to ask one more question to the students, students will be inspired too.
    I'm grateful that I have those passionate, inspiring, and sincere teachers in my life. I've learned so much from them and cannot be more happy about the things they teach me, the way they make me think, and the possibilities they opened up for me.
    If the people in the educational environment are happy, all of the learning experience will be a positive one--one that students would like to try out even on their own.
  • Dec 5 2011: I may not be a student but I would like to see:
    1. A definitive syllabus/curriculum with detailed week by week indication of what is to be taught and achieved.
    2. A method of measuring the success/failure of the teaching on a progressive basis so any deficiencies can be identified and corrected during the term/semester.
    3. Text books rather than photocopied pages from books purchased at a bookstore.
    4. A method of identifying student weaknesses and helping those that need it.
    5. Teachers that are dressed appropriate to their position.
    6. Teachers that earn and command respect.
    7. Teachers that treat all children fairly .
    8. Teachers that make the lessons exciting and engage students.
    9. Teachers that can achieve without screaming and shouting at children.
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    Dec 4 2011: The problem with education does not lie with the schools.

    It is with the bureaucracy and wider society surrounding it. In this way, you begin to see that problems with the education system are indicative of wider societal problems.

    No system is perfect which is why we need to have more focus on the people in the system and less on the system itself.

    Standardised testing fails because it is rubbish. It exists so that bureaucrats can look at a couple of percentage/stats and pass judgements on schools.

    Unfortunately, we have few choices when it comes to schooling unless we are filthy rich or are motivated to educate ourselves. Granted, there are still people who value degrees and qualifications and the reality is that, for many professions, you need them to 'get in the door'.

    For many, you don't and these sorts of jobs are on the rise as the economy shifts and markets go global.

    The 21st Century is seeing a general shift away from "one size fits all" approaches to a more "focused on individuals" approach. This means that the roles of both teachers and students are changing.

    Don't rely on systems. Don't measure yourself against artificial yard-sticks. Figure out what you want and grab it with both hands.

    It won't be easy but nothing worthwhile in life ever is.

    Keep questioning the status quo.
  • Dec 4 2011: It is my firm belief that when students are faced with the question of education reform, it is crucial that we look to the success of foreign countries in their unique education systems. China, tirelessly cited as the poster-child for vigorous education, has the right idea in keeping students in school for extended hours everyday. When I personally hear international students at Indiana University talk about the rigor of their education in their home country, usually China or India, the difficulty of the foreign system sometimes sounds like overkill or too radical for Americans. Despite this, the benefits of such a system are obvious when I see these students utilize their obviously superior problem-solving skills in a wide variety of situations (mathematics, economics, science). The one area that we as Americans are usually proficient in is writing and reading. However, I think the areas where we could improve the most is in math & science as well as the learning of a second language. All of these subjects would require more time in school to practice and master these skills. With that, I think students nationwide are willing and capable of turning our dated educational system into a rigorous system comparable with that of China. I believe this because we are a competitive nation, and we cannot allow the USA to continue in a free-fall as other nations rise above us.
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    Dec 4 2011: One of the many problems is the few authority that the teachers have. There are so many formations that the government organises to teachers (they are obligated to go) but they don´t improve anything. It is very useless, because that are still bad teachers who don´t know how to teach and let things happen in classes that shouldn´t happen. They can´t quite their students who spend the 90 minutes of class talking and disturbing the classes. And in that 90 minutes, only half or less of that time is really productive and dedicated to learning. If the classes were productive, there wouldn´t be the necessity of having afternoon classes.
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    Dec 4 2011: I agree with you .
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    Dec 4 2011: Also I would like to add to John Diaz-Barriga comment, that yes I agree with you, that it is obvious, that it is flawed students attitude. But simply to say to change that is not enough, that would just be pointing fingers at one obvious part of a whole greater picture.
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    Dec 4 2011: ------------
    I think the number 1 factor in education –the one thing that, if you could change, would fix the entire thing– is student attitude! I've never seen a student who wanted it enough, not get it.

    Finally, here is my idea worth spreading: Teachers should measure their success by the number of students that return to visit them after they graduate. If you think about what that means, I think you'll agree ; ---------------

    From what you are saying I can understand your point of view, but to simply say ''I've never seen a student who wanted it enough, not get it'' implies in that, of which; if you really want it, you can get it, that is true, however, for the students, that do not know what to get, or how to get ''it'', or are less determined to get ''it'', what will happen to this group? .. - What happens to this group? They get alienated by society, that it is their 'own fault' because the resources where there to be taken, they just did not.

    - So to simply say we need to change students attitude, first we most come to an understanding, that requires us to be able to understand what is wrong with the attitude? Is it something in the education system?, that does not suit the needs of everyone?, (Implies to the ''other group'') to say this is true; then it is wrong to say students attitude to be changed, but perhaps broaden the view of what a school or institute should be able to provide for the students.

    My idea of a school reform; Should be first; teachers should act more as guidance towards helping students grow in every aspect of any field, as mentors. Schools should be a sanctuary for knowledge, for art, for everything that touches our ability to learn and to understand the world we live in, and not just to produce good and determined co-workers, but to indulge, knowledge, moral etiquette, philosophy, to be able to ask critical question, about yourself, and others, and the world we live in.

    To build a better and brighter future.
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      Dec 4 2011: I absolutely agree with your penultimate paragraph. School should teach students how to think, learn to learn and not put up knowledges into our heads. I love learning, to possess knowledge, but school don´t let us enjoy that.
      It pressure us with works and works and stress us. School takes our time away, because we have to work after classes. I can´t spend time with my family as I wish and I barely have time to have fun (just play or read).
      But the school problem is also the teachers and the students. Most of students don´t care about anything and there are some good teachers that care, but some of them are just bad teachers.
      In my country, there´s no authority: teachers can´t quite their students and put up some order as they should. In that way, school is everything but a sanctuary.
  • Dec 4 2011: school should be cheaper. among many other things
  • Dec 2 2011: Classes to start later? How about going to bed... earlier? What will you tell your employee when he expects you to be at work at 7 AM sharp? "Open the shop a little later if you want me to perform better"?

    School does not start at an unreasonable time--we all sleep (including myself here) at a ridiculous time. And it's not that we are busy until past midnight; we have games we want to play, shows we want to watch, and, well, facebook to check and update.

    So far, most of the posts have only complaints that hardly identifies the actual problems. And most issues are addressed and have actions taken upon in other communities. It's obvious that each school district is different depending on so many factors, but at least we know that a lot of issues have been resolved in other communities. So perhaps we can consider the factors, compare them, and see which ones can be adapted. During that process, we will probably mostly find factors that are unadaptable, but at least the process would/should have helped us identified the real problems at hand and from there tackle the issue from a different angle.

    That is probably what a lot of educators are seeking to do nearly every single day when the see their children's education suffer.

    Perhaps children should learn to respect more, expected to endure more, and want to do more than what gets the passing grade. Perhaps it all starts with the parents, then, to teach children the basics of how to be a respective, humble human being before yelling at a teacher for his or her inability to tailor the class to their childrens' lack of desire to learn.

    Out of all the posts, I think Terry Freeman's post should be read first. And when you finish reading, think more about John Diaz-Barriga's comment: "I think the number 1 factor in education –the one thing that, if you could change, would fix the entire thing– is student attitude! I've never seen a student who wanted it enough, not get it."
  • Dec 2 2011: i dont understand why the current education system keeps lowering standards when it obviously doesn't help any student.
    i dont understand how its acceptable to graduate any institution with an average less than 100. shouldn't every student know 100 percent of the material at hand?
    i dont understand why education forces students to move on to a new subject/chapter before completely understanding the current subject/chapter.
    i dont understand why students are still taught via textbooks when a. its a waste of paper b. its a one size fits all text that doesn't necessarily fit all.
    i dont understand why tutors exist. why should families pay for private tutors when their hard earned taxes are supposed to educate their children already ( tutors are the red flag of the failing education system )

    in my opinion the absolute number one factor that's causing my loss of faith in the education system:
    i truly believe that standardized testing is a joke.
    with all the learning disabilities, diversity in languages, diversity in academic backgrounds, and complete misrepresentation of a persons capabilities that you simply cannot compare one student to another

    - recent high school graduate
  • Dec 2 2011: Brian hit it spot on! If someone knows what they want to do, let them do it! as simple as that
  • Dec 2 2011: Create different classrooms that cater to the different learning needs of different students. Some are hands on learners and some are visual.
  • Dec 2 2011: I want a school where we only have to take classes that pursue our career interests. I also would like a school where I don't have to deal with other students, they constantly ruin the education experience for me to the point where I hate school but love learning. Excuse my language, but schools piss me off they ruin everything about they education process and ruin young minds.
  • Nov 30 2011: I am a teacher of Creative Thinking in an infant school. We are a Thinking and Learning Community with an Outstanding rating from Ofsted. Over seven years we have developed a partnership in thinking and learning between staff and children which has upturned the traditional routine of teachers planning activities, children participating, or not. From 4 years old, children are questioned on their thinking and learning and their preferences, using thought-provoking, open-ended, socratic questioning. Everyones opinion is respected. Children are consulted before, during and at the end of thinking and learning experiences regarding their preferred learning styles and their preferred teaching styles and strategies.Children are encouraged to plan future learning experiences that are relevant to them. Open-ended learning opportunities that are initiated by teachers are created to inspire, encourage and engage children to take risks, solve problems, raise questions, work together, have fun. We are now in the position of visiting other schools - schools for 11 to 18 year olds to present the development and success of this approach. We have a group of children that consult and monitor thinking and learning, another that consults on extra challenges in thinking as well as a school council. Children consult with governors and with visiting educationalists to the school. Respect and standing back to encourage and question with enthusiasm are key. Children are considered and referred to as philosophers. Questions that I pitch are often from sources usually considered for junior, or secondary or a-level. I have used examples form my daughters a-level philosophy or RE resources. Setting expectations too low only shows the practitioner is placing a judgement on the students before even asking a question. Children think and learn from each other faster than with one adult instructor. Behaviour, incidentally, in such sessions is excellent as children are self-motivated and focussed.
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    Nov 30 2011: I believe students are more acute than teachers at spotting flaws in the education system, since they are the direct subjects of it. On one hand, teachers, however passionate, are increasingly burdened by the need to deliver results, and simply do not have the capacity to fully place themselves in the shoes of students. On the other hand, while students know deep down some specific issues that need to be addressed, they lack the experience to understand the full context of major systemic flaws in the education system. The best analogy I can think of to such a situation is the newly employed worker and his/her boss: the former is groping in the dark trying to figure out the organisational structure and political hierarchies, while the latter is preoccupied with short-term productivity rather than introducing long term reforms.

    I think reform has to start with raising students' awareness about how they feel about the way lessons are taught, the way educational materials are designed etc. etc.
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    Nov 29 2011: I wish I could study the subjects, and take the classes that I would like. I do not like being caged by the constructed "Major." I feel like I am entirely limited in what I can do in my four years of school over specializing when I see much more value in getting my fingers into everything to connect the dots and realize where/how everything interconnects. So an encouraged flexibility in curriculum.

    I also wish, on the high school level, we could have a class dedicated to what is happening in the world: today. I didn't read the paper in high school as I know many others are the same. I wish we could have an opportunity to discuss the current events and their implications. A class to show how we can act upon our global responsibility.

    Again on the high school level, I wish there was an open opportunity to explore something that interests you in an academic way. If you love video games, the experience of learning about and trying to create their own! Think of how valuable that would have been to you. To have the chance to look into something that really interests you, with the support of a teacher that, may know nothing about what you're doing, but can foster your excitement and steer you in the right direction so you can discover the information yourself. So learning how to navigate and use information outside of the school setting to your own ends.
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    Nov 29 2011: I'm not treating college as a way to learn how to be an adult. I'm here to learn new things and gain knowledge so I completely agree with John that it student attitude is everything. If I'm interested in something i'll go out and learn it on my own.
    Unfortunately school has a lot of subjects you aren't interested in. The solution there is a teacher/professor who loves that subject a lot. Often I'll get really into a lecture because I get caught up in the same enthusiasm the professor has. When you're teaching someone something you care about you know what the best way to teach it is.

    A suggestion box feels kind of cowardly to me when you compare it to a real conversation. A suggestion on a note looks like an insult but that same question in person becomes a chance for a dialogue. Showing your instructor you care about your own learning does wonders to make him or her care about your success.
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    Nov 28 2011: Like you've said, I think students should have a louder voice in education reform –we are, after all, the target audience! I think establishing a feedback system (like a suggestion box) is essential. However, a suggestion box would only get abused. And, unfortunately, not all students are genuinely interested in improving education and their feedback might not be as helpful.

    I think some amazing things are happening with TED, iTunes U, Khan Academy, and other similar online programs. We're seeing education being propelled by curiosity! I would want to see schools that promote these things.

    I think education reform is pretty tricky because there are so many interpretations of what school is or should be. Some might argue (like Julius) that school should prepare you to function in society. I can agree with that, but I also see school as a promotion of personal discovery. I enjoy learning and wish I could just go to school all of my life!

    I think the number 1 factor in education –the one thing that, if you could change, would fix the entire thing– is student attitude! I've never seen a student who wanted it enough, not get it.

    Finally, here is my idea worth spreading: Teachers should measure their success by the number of students that return to visit them after they graduate. If you think about what that means, I think you'll agree.
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    Nov 27 2011: Is it just me that thinks school should prepare students to be productive in society? going to college and being productive in society are competely diferent objectives! The way its structured is so that it just separates students based on what their percieved potential is. i think the first thing that needs to change in shools is the curriculum.