For 2 hours, 5 youth spoke animatedly about their experience of school. They would not come across as the most studious of students, but they were certainly not indifferent to their studies and had much to say about how their experience in school could be improved. When students make good progress at school, the assumption is that they worked harder and perhaps were blessed with the appropriate intelligence. Hence, those who do not do as well, tend to be regarded as less academically inclined or less motivated.
Talent and industry are important factors for one’s success at school but these youth seem to be telling us that it is the overall experience of school that matters, and teachers are a big part of the experience. “I used to hate English, but my teacher helped me improve. Although it is not fun, I still do well,” and upon hearing this, another youth concurred by adding, “Teachers play an important role in determining the subjects that students like.”
When asked what they would do if they were Principal and had the power and resources to create a better learning experience for students, the group agreed with the opinion to bring in “better” teachers “who can check on the students’ understanding after each lesson, instead of just testing an entire topic.” The youth elaborated that when there is too much to catch up on, “students will feel lazy and perceive that they would not understand even if they read the contents and attempt to learn by themselves.”
“Run a Kahoot! quiz after every lesson to assess students’ understanding” was a suggestion how students’ understanding could be monitored and with tongue-in-cheek, another said that there should be a device on every student’s head to indicate their understanding. “Maybe a green light appears when student is understanding, and it becomes orange or red when they are not.” The group laughed but the point that the speed of teaching must be regulated was valid. Come to think of it, 3 “traffic light” buttons on a desk that enables a student to provide immediate feedback to a teacher sounds like a workable and helpful variation that is not far-fetched.
Ironically, while these students tend to find online learning boring, they had suggestions for how technology can enhance their understanding of a lesson. They suggested that math games on a phone would be an effective way to learn and virtual reality facilities will provide students with realistic immersive experiences that would enhance their situational writing.
There was also a request for teachers who made students feel comfortable about raising their concerns and we suspect that if the youth were told that they could have one wish for a better school experience fulfilled, this would be it. We gather this from their comments at the end of the session. “I like how we can give our own thoughts and I enjoy having people validating what we said. I also like how people can hear us out, allowing us to pour out our sorrows,” was one of the comments but all 5 youth said something similar. They enjoyed the discussion because they were able to express doubts and uncertainties without the fear of being judged or regarded as inferior.
Wishing you good health and peace of mind.
“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”― John Dewey