Secondary Students

What did the Secondary students have to say about…

…the purpose of schooling?

❝You should go to school because it gives you the basic knowledge that you need, um, and not all of it is particularly relevant or is necessary for you to carry forward in your life, but the basic going to school is pretty much necessary for preparing you for what you will do later on.❞

❝…you go to school to learn, but [I] also feel that human interaction is important.❞

❝…a really important part of school is developing skills and I think that…if you develop that curiosity from a young age by going to school, you carry that on in your life…  You might not necessarily be learning everything you want to learn…but…everything still teaches you specific skills.  So, for example, you might not be really interested in Math, but you are still learning a skill…and your logical improvement and things like that, which also helps later on.  And so I think that, apart from learning and getting to know what you want your career to be, it’s important to develop those skills as you grow up.❞

❝[Are you happier on a Sunday night because you have got school the next day or on a Friday night because you’ve got the weekend the next day?]
Friday, Friday, Friday!❞

❝…one of my friends read me this quote: ‘Don’t let school get in the way of your education.’ And I couldn’t agree more, because I am naturally curious and I feel like, OK, this is what school is supposed to do, but, honestly I don’t feel like it does it.  …So I feel right now the stuff we are doing is not particularly challenging.  I may be enjoying one or two subjects.  The rest of the stuff is just stuff you just have to do.  You have to sit down and you have to finish it because you have to give it in.❞

❝There are a lot of things that aren’t explained… You are supposed to use this formula and that’s the right answer.  There should be more, you know, there should be more perspective how it came about, like, why is it important.❞

❝I think the reason it hasn’t changed is because it’s institutionally supposed to be like that.  You need to go to school to show that you’ve gone to school, your report card to show you’ve got the grades you need.  All this stuff so eventually you can go to college…so in four years you can become an adult, make yourself and then eventually get a job.❞

…about assessment for learning?

❝…depending on…a grade isn’t good because it’s not really a holistic judgement on how well the student is actually, on how much the student is capable of.  Because I think too much revolves around grades…❞

❝…getting a grade or working towards a grade is what motivates me at times to actually improve.  So, if I know that, OK, this is going to be graded, then I automatically my concentration improves when I am studying for a test.❞

❝…having grades as motivation is quite bad because then you are just focusing on getting good marks rather than understanding…❞

❝The grade system is kind of evil…❞

❝For me, if I have grades, I know where I am standing.  Without grades, I don’t know how to compare myself… We only know when we like something when we excel at it.  I think grades is one of the ways in which we can find out why and how we excel at it.❞

❝I believe the teacher [should grade the work] because, I don’t know, when I evaluate my own work I feel a kind of bias, I kind of give a higher grade to myself.  It just happens.  I don’t know.  So, if I have a third person looking at my work, even if it is proof reading, I have a more clinical aspect to it.❞

❝…grades don’t show how smart you are.  I don’t think that’s the case at all.  To a certain level it does, but getting good grades in school doesn’t mean you are smart.  Because I feel getting good grades means you’ve worked hard at the assignment.  You’ve read what you need to do to get the grades and you’ve done that.❞

❝…if…a teacher told me that, you know, I’m gonna stop grading all your work.  Why would you work then?  Because, I understand it’s to do with a love of learning but, essentially, at some point we’ve kind of realised that you’re not going to like everything you do and that’s a case with life too.  So there needs to be that kind of motivation to do it.❞

❝…if there’s going to be no…incentive for working hard, and it’s just going to be put on the same level as someone who didn’t work hard at all, it feels so unfair.❞

…about democratic education?

❝…when you look at the benefit for the whole school, I would like a lot more power over what I do…how I do it, who teaches me…  I would really like that choice that they give us… I just feel like that we should have a lot more control and not just in education but also in how the school runs and which teachers are there…❞

❝…I don’t think you should be able to roam free and do what you want all day.  I disagree with that.  But I feel that [students] should have a part in their education and they should feel responsible for it.❞

❝I believe that people, children, should have, like, options over who they want to be taught by because…when I get to choose a teacher or when one of my favourite teachers teaches me, I feel that there is that motivation which I have, OK.  I think I can connect with a teacher better.  It’s about that connection as well.❞

❝…if you’ve come to school to learn, why not just learn, why do you want to waste that time in doing something else?  Just take that advantage.  Take advantage of the time.❞

❝So I think that making choices is really important and I think that every child needs to learn how to make the right choices…but at the same time there is a reason why those lines are there and that’s because we might not know the best…❞

❝So children might not necessarily always know what the best thing is for them because they are still learning, they are still developing, right.  They are always learning from people around them, they are always learning from people who are older than them because they have more, I mean not always, but usually they have more knowledge…and that can really help us, right.❞

❝…I think that…while we should be able to make our own choices such as what we want to learn and how we want to learn because everyone has different learning styles, it’s important to have somebody to guide us…❞

❝…there is a reason why there is a more knowledgeable other, that more knowledgeable other guides us to our fullest potential and that is really important every day because…otherwise we might get lost or we might be demotivated because we are still learning, you know.❞

…about their perfect school?

❝I feel the main factor, I would like to design [is] a school [where] learning is very attractive to students.  Children should want to learn rather than it being forced on them.  It should be something …. for every single student.  That’s how it should be.  So, they should be motivated to learn not because of the grades or anything like that.❞

❝…children should have…the choice about what they want to learn but there should also be some specific life skills that should be taught in school and I think that, if I were to design a school, I would make sure that children are familiar and comfortable with actually going out into the world and not just learning about biology and chemistry but also about how to survive…. I mean washing and everything. You could learn at home but there are certain things at we are just so clueless about. And also how to deal with, um, if our relationship is not working out or things like.  You know these are really necessary for the wellbeing of the student and I think the wellbeing of the student may be improved in schooling systems.❞

❝…I think that pressure, it needs to be decreased definitely because, I mean putting more pressure on the child is not going to help the child’s learning…so managing stress, I mean, that’s one thing I would incorporate in…my schooling system, because it’s so important… Studies show your memory and your learning capabilities kind of decrease because, you know, your mind is so blocked with everything else, and, I think that clearing that out could make everybody so much more capable…❞

❝…everyone says we should allow students to pick and choose how they want to learn and what they want to learn.  I mean we are a pretty decently sized school but you can’t just get teachers out of thin air, you can’t say this teacher, nobody likes this teacher, she’s not doing a good job, the students have spoken, now let’s find a new teacher.  That’s a slow process.  I think that, if you can kind of come up with a very futuristic ‘theology’ where computers can replace teachers and courses can then be taught by computers and students would then log credits and you’d have pretty interesting experiments.❞

❝…people should have the freedom to decide how they want to learn so they wanna learn with computers, they should, but…having teachers is still important. At the same time there should be more flexibility so, if students want to learn more with computers and things like that, then that should be allowed.❞

❝…maybe in future teaching would be a job that would be done by an application rather than a teacher doing it directly to the room, just supervise it you know, rather than being there 24/7.  So that’s the best of the teacher’s time too.❞

❝If you want to change the system, you have to change the mindset… But it’s going to be a process.  It won’t happen overnight, you know.  It will take years, because, they will have to go out into the world and all schools around the world will have to incorporate this and, I mean, their parents might not be open to the idea and everything.  So it’s a huge process but I think it’s possible to at least start changing mindsets towards learning and towards this broken world that we have and we can possibly fix it by simply changing a few things.❞