Secondary Students

What did the Secondary Students have to say…

…about marking and assessment?

“People should try their best but maybe not everyone has the same ability of getting a high grade.”

“[Students] study harder for the [subjects] they like than the ones that they don’t.”

“I don’t think that [getting rid of grades] would be a good thing, because I use my grades to see what I’ve done wrong and use them to my advantage to get better at them or stay at the same level as what I have done.”

“…I wouldn’t know if I was getting better or worse in different areas of school [if we got rid of grades]… I’ve been there a lot.”

“…the feedback is one of the main points… but you need to know your grades to know if you need to get better or if it’s enough. Now you should always be wanting to be better, but sometimes you want to know your level.”

“…if…my grades are higher, I know that I am improving and, if I stay on the same level, I am…doing the same thing all the time instead of improving myself.”

“[When asked, “If you were given back a piece of work with a grade and a comment, what would you look at first?”] Grade, Grade, Grade, Grade, Yeah.”

…about Learning?

“…learning should be fun because you learn things better in a fun way… but it should also be serious at times, …it should have a main point that you should refer to when you’re in need, not always taking things in a fun way…”

“…you should feel passionate about [what you’re learning] but there are times in life when you should also do what you are told…”

“I think that sometimes you have to have fun in your lessons, like, trying not to fall asleep or anything, but…you shouldn’t always be able to have fun in lessons. Because if you are having too much fun, you are forgetting…to do work, and you should…have lessons…focusing on the work and doing the proper work.”

“…you can’t feel passionate about everything you study but, you feel…good that you’ve studied it, because…there are people who don’t have the chance to study what you are doing.”

“…it should be fun but sometimes it has to be serious, because it’s school and it’s all about learning… You don’t have to be passionate about everything, but everything we learn, or nearly everything, is going to come up in later life.”

“I think [teachers] are preparing you for…half of [the future], not preparing you fully because they don’t really know what it’s going to be like, but they are preparing you a part…, how they experienced it.”

“[Teachers] don’t know what they are preparing us for, because we don’t know what is going to happen in the future but…they’re…teaching us from their experiences.”

…and about Democratic Education?

“[It would be] pointless… Because you are in school…to learn, not to do whatever you want, and to get an education… to have good role models for the future.”

“I think it’s a good idea but…it wouldn’t help in the way you learn… You’re here to learn and this is your future, this is getting ready for your future and, if you do your own things now, then sometimes in the future when you’re older you can’t do what you really want all the time… you’d be stuck, not knowing what to do.”

“At first it may seem exciting for some people, like, all the school you can be with your friends, do whatever you like but, as time passes, what would be the point in going to school if you are not learning anything, getting better at stuff.”

“…you might not like what the teachers are doing but sometimes they are doing the right way and you just can’t accept that and sometimes you don’t want to accept it. Sometimes it is the right way and you’ve just got to understand that.”

“I don’t think [student-led conferences] would be helpful really, because sometimes I, in parents’ evenings or reports, I see…something that really I didn’t know that was happening. You expect some things sometimes and you don’t have the same vision as a teacher and you need two sides…”

“I would give students a bit more of a say in this school. In general, I mean it does depend sometimes on what they learn. That’s up to the curriculum. In general, the idea of the [Sudbury Valley method], that is a bit over say for students. In that direction – but not too far.”

And finally…

[When it was pointed out, “You might be interested to know that the parents’ views were much more radical, much more extreme, and much more liberal than yours.”] “Maybe it’s the mind-set we’re set into?”

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