Student voice

Are all voices equal?

I just read this article by Dean Shareski. It’s been on my mind for a long time, and today my students reminded me of how much I miss more student involvement. They had summoned their teachers for a meeting today, addressing their concern about too many tests this week. Many teachers showed up, not all though, I’m sorry to say. Those absent would typically be those who argue that students should embrace 4,5,6 tests a week and that they did so themselves during university, so why shouldn’t 16-year-olds start experiencing it too. I am having a hard time accepting the logic here, but enough said about that.  Here is a passage from Dean’s article:

When it comes to students I’m fine with hearing what students want from their education. However, they don’t know what they don’t know. It’s why I object to a full-on personalized learning experience if that’s being interpreted as students make all the decisions. That’s just a bad idea. Should students voices matter in how their schooling looks? Certainly. Students can provide us with insights we might be missing. We should be asking them for input into decisions that impact themselves and education more broadly. Should their ideas matter the same as the adults? I don’t think so.

To me, this is an interesting thought in a time where personalized learning in certain circles is the buzzword. The same can be said about Competency-based learning. Mastery and Time based learning at least in the USA.

One area where I really would really like to see student voice and involvement is in testing, grading and advancing in their learning. (Personalized Competency-Based Education). Because I think many of our challenges in school could be easily solved by letting the students decide when they are ready to show competency. And in our school that is a challenge since the teachers find it wearying and complicated to make many different tests. In my opinion, if the students could choose how to show mastery of the different competency goals, when they are ready, not the teacher, that would be a revolution. ( and yes I know many schools are already doing this). Here is an article I wrote where I share 60 things students can create to demonstrate what they know. And let me know if you work at a school that already does a good job here!


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