A High School Student on Education Reform

medium logoJonah Steele is a current high school student, writing on Medium about the current debate over education reform. He laments the fact that students do not seem to have any input, or at least are not taken seriously, in this debate.

Mr. Steele states:

Regardless of how many times you’ve watched a TED talk pop up on education reform, or read a depressing Washington Post article on how American students score on tests, you probably haven’t heard a whole lot from the perspective of students themselves. It’s funny that in discussing this problem the media has tended to leave out the voices of those that the problem directly affects. It’s because we don’t know how to effectively voice our thoughts.

His four main points are as follows:

  1. Stop shoving content down our throats and make us think.

This new mindset on how students go about learning threatens an age-old paradigm: the teacher as the provider of knowledge. If this new way of thinking were to be followed, the teacher would no longer serve as an instructor of knowledge, but rather a guide showing students how to go about analyzing and effectively organizing information.

  1. Stop fearing technology.

There’s this misconception that when it comes to technology, students are irresponsible and prone to losing focus. This can partially be blamed on administrative policies that ineffectively address the issue of technology usage in the classroom. Students are entirely capable of utilizing technology in a responsible way. The incorporation of mobile devices into curriculum would draw students further into what they’re learning.

  1. Teach us to write effectively for who our audience will be.

The essay is quickly taking on a new form: the post. This evolution of the written word is flexible, interactive, and effective. It allows for stronger reader comprehension and retention, and a closer relationship between reader and writer. To successfully influence an audience in the 21st century, a writer needs to be able to develop material that is not only content-rich but visually pleasing and user experience-oriented. Pen and paper can’t do that.

  1. Stop destroying our teachers.

I have had more teachers that I’ve loved than teachers that I haven’t. Teachers are some of the most inspiring people that I’ve met, and their ability to engage students with the restraints they have is astonishing. But they are so, so tired. They are vastly underpaid. It is despicable that our society undervalues the people that we entrust with the education of our children. Teachers fight against misguided parents, state-mandated testing, curriculum requirements, archaic administration models, and a lack of resources.

For more of Jonah Steele’s Blog, see I am the subject of Education Reform

For more information on organizations for student voices, see Medium: Student Voices.