What did the students have to say…

…about the purpose of schooling?

❝…when we go to school, we gain knowledge, which helps you know what is happening around the world.❞

❝I think children should go to school because you get an education and education opens up a lot of opportunities which you wouldn’t have if you didn’t get the education.❞  

❝I think you go to school to…gain knowledge from teachers who have already learned what you are trying to learn.❞

❝I want to tell you something. I think school is overrated… Because, some parents say, if you don’t do well at school, you’ll not become this, you’ll not have money.  But there are some football players that earn £525,000 a week to kick a ball.❞ 

❝…many actors are school drop outs but they have actually done pretty well in life and they are successful.  I am sure that education is not actually needed for any … job and to be successful in life.❞

❝When you leave this environment, there are things in life that you can do, like get a job, like further your education… becoming something in the society, having a place within the society, so you have to come to school. To acquire the knowledge you need.❞

❝I don’t think school is all about academics, I think it’s about all aspects of life.❞

❝I think people just to go to school because everyone is going to school, so they just need to be here because if you are not here then nobody thinks you are important.❞

❝The only main reason why you should go to school is because you have to improve and improve and improve until you are the best you can become.❞

…about assessment for learning

❝I wouldn’t want to be in a school where they didn’t have grades, because grades are supposed to show you what you did wrong, how you can improve.  If you just have your feedback, teachers can just write ‘Oh, you didn’t put this’ but then you won’t know what you got and what you missed and what you did not understand.❞

❝…grades are just a way to…gauge your performance but they are not really needed.  So, if you are still getting the feedback, then you know what you need to work on.❞ 

❝I think that children should only do the work and teachers should do the rest.❞ 

❝I think the children should do the work and leave the marking to the teachers because, if the children do the marking, if they want they can change the answers.  But then the teachers can then see if it is right or wrong and give the right answers, if it’s wrong.❞

❝I would remove grades…because, if you get too low grades or too high grades, then all the other students they start to attack you because they are feeling insecure about their own grades or something.❞

❝[The gradeless classroom] is unlikely to work in…Africa, because I know, I’ve schooled in Africa so I know how things work in Africa. No offence, African children tend to be very lazy. We tend to need something to always push us, to always drive us, to do better. … It may work in some societies, but…we always need something to drive us.❞

❝If you don’t get grades and you just get feedback, it doesn’t tell us how we are doing. We won’t really take it seriously.❞

❝A gradeless class would be boring because there’d be no competition.❞

❝I think that the child should be involved in marking their own work or their assessments, because, when you mark your work or someone’s work, you tend to see the mistakes that you don’t really learn from… I think we should be involved in marking our own work.❞

…about Learning and Teaching

❝…they can’t start looking for every single kid. It’s not possible.❞

❝You should have a bit of fun but, if you have too much, it’s going to distract you.❞

❝…I think that you should be happy at school because, if you are not happy, you won’t do the right thing and you will just be failing and failing…❞

❝…if work is fun, that means it is actually very easy.❞

❝I think that children should be happy in order to learn better because, when they are happy, they will not be preoccupied by anything else and can concentrate on their work.❞

❝It depends on the type of kid, like, what is fun to them is probably not fun to others.❞

❝…I would also give less homework because, if you get too much homework, then you feel overwhelmed and don’t want to go to school tomorrow…❞

❝…teachers should actually stop giving homework because the student has still a lot to enjoy after they go home they can rest or watch TV or play games rather than actually sit home and do their homework for hours…❞

❝If someone is having fun in school, you really want to continue learning, ‘cause if you don’t have fun at all in school, you won’t like what you are doing, you want to leave school, you won’t listen in class, you won’t pay attention and, because of that, you will fail your exams. So I think it is very important that they are happy in school, so you can do everything.❞

❝I don’t think you should just have fun in school. I think that there should be… something strict in place to make sure that you are actually learning, then you can have a little bit of fun so it’s not so boring.❞

❝I only learn when I’m having fun. I can only learn when there is a bit of noise and playing. And if there is no fun in school, nobody would be happy to learn. Everyone would just be very boring and silent so there is no motivation to learn.❞   

…about democratic education

❝I think there should be choice that the child can choose what that child enjoys and actually concentrate.  Because when it is decided you have to go and study this and maybe the child has lost interest in that subject long time back so actually performs really badly.  But when there’s choice and the child can choose, the child enjoys that subject and loves learning it.❞

❝…choice should come later on.  Because I remember when I was younger I wanted to be a teacher and now I want to be a writer.  So, when you are young you are so unsure about what you want to do and so you shouldn’t be given too much choice…❞

❝Personally, the greatest thing they can do is just to listen to children’s opinions. That’s all they have to do. You may not obviously, teenagers tend to be very particular. They tend to ask for things that you cannot grant them. But if they give you a list of possible things and you can’t do one out of all the things, you’ve got a problem because there is no happiness in society. The environment is bad and teachers are disgruntled, the management is disgruntled. They just, they need to take into consideration the opinion of the students… and do something about it, then they’ll make you happy.❞

❝I think we should have a lot of control, because, if I am learning something I don’t think I am ever going to need, then I won’t learn it the way I’ll learn something I think I’m going to use one day… A child should be able to choose the majority of what they learn because that way they chose it so they will be, like, more willing to put effort and actually learn because they’ve decided I want to take this particular class.❞

❝I think we should be able to choose what we learn. Then, how we learn it can be decided by the adult.❞

❝They have been there, they have gone to school, they are adults, they know what we need.❞

❝If you bring democratic schools to Nigeria…everything would go upside down.❞

…about their perfect school

❝…in my perfect school, the teachers would be less focused on making the students gain good grades so they can pass their exams and more focused on teaching them actual things that will stick in their heads until they get older.❞

❝Teachers would be more or less supervisors instead of like actually teaching, because, I think the whole, the teachers standing in front of the class, and saying today we are going to learn, like, probability, I think it’s very outdated in a way.❞