Can You Hear Them?

November 18, 2011

Student voices

Yesterday I attended the fall regional MLTI workshop on Digital Citizenship/Social Media. I thought it was one of the best MLTI workshops and was very glad that I decided to attend. I walked away with a broader understanding and a few tips that I could put in place today.

At the end of today (this evening to be precise) I opened my laptop to answer email and found one from Education Week and articles on Innovation. One called “Why We Need to Foster Innovation” written by Phoenix M. Wang. I have read other pieces by Ms. Wang and each time something she says catches my eye or strikes a cord. This one was no different.

Perhaps it is because I taught middle school for so many years or because of my own experiences as a young adolescent through high school that I firmly believe WE DON’T GIVE TEENAGERS ENOUGH CREDIT. Nor enough responsibility, or allow them to lead enough, put them in charge enough or value what they have to offer. I also believe that this contributes to drop out for some, disengagement in school for others, or a lazy attitude for a portion of our young people. I was reminded of this belief when I read Ms. Wang’s article.

The problems that exist in the world can be solved by young people. They have creative minds that help them to think differently about problems. I don’t think anyone would disagree that we need to think differently if the US is going to compete in this global economy successfully.

There is a great deal of talk, and action is underway to transform education in Maine. The energy is growing. I heard on the radio this morning while driving to a meeting in Bar Harbor that teenage brains that have been studied showed that young people who are involved in gaming had brains that were developing differently than those who do not game a great deal.This is an indication to me that we can not continue to do (school) “business as usual”.

The commentary touches on the value of innovation and asks “why is innovation so important?” She gives examples of young people and opportunities they have and they create to put their ideas out there. Please take a few moments and think about your classroom. Are students making decisions about their learning? Are they encouraged to answer questions, work collaboratively, and create? Is the student responsible for their learning? What does that look like in an arts classroom?

You can access the entire article by clicking here. It would be wonderful to read your feedback on the article by leaving a comment. Thanks so much!

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