What do you expect from your education?

As educators, how do we know if we are doing a good job in providing our students with the best opportunities for the future? We can look at test scores and evaluate data, but are our students engaged? Are they learning? More importantly- are they satisfied? What if we were to create an education that encompassed our students' needs while delivering content that was relevant to them. What would that look like?

A little background before we begin....
My current place of employment is a private nonprofit school located in a small suburban town. We have block scheduling, with ELA and Math taking up three periods of the schedule every other day and Social Studies and Science taking up two. I only see them for one period. Sad. I know.

In my small corner of the world, I took it upon myself to ask my middle school students a series of questions in an anonymous survey. {I, of course, at first had to explain anonymity to a few to ensure honest results.} It was even asked to be completed at home on his or her own time. I asked my students to think of their overall classes, and not just mine when they sat down to answer my survey. Is their education up to par? Do they expect more?

While I was not surprised by their responses, I found their open-ended answers refreshing. One student responded "One thing I expect out of my education is to learn information that will be helpful/useful for my future and every day life. I would like to have a basic understanding of simple things and I would expect to use more technology in other classes that aren't tech because this day in age that will be more influential." While another stated "From my education, I expect that we should use much more technology, as that is what many other schools use. In our classes, we use technology and I believe it would be more effective if we used it more often. I also believe that with the new times, our education should be more relevant and suited towards how things work today. I feel that we should learn more things that could help us in the real world. I believe that knowing about how birds can fly is not preparing me to be a good citizen in the 21st century."

Interesting enough, although many were unsure about what they wanted to be in the future, their responses looked towards the possibilities "I would not only like to learn how to do things, but learn things that I could potentially use on a daily basis when I get older."

Don't worry. I also received the responses like "I think we need more free time" or "to be fun and educational" which is what I thought I would have gotten more of considering my pool of respondents were 11-14 year olds.

But then there are the ones who got it, and took advantage to explain their disposition:

"I feel that the education system is in need of change. While I may know the density of a planet and how to do complicated math equations, I still do not know how to pay my bills or manage myself when I am older. I understand that I am just in 8th grade, and that this subject may be touched upon in high school, but I still feel too many students have no direction of what they want to be in the future. In school, we fill out bubbles in tests that have been created by people who have never taught a day in their life and compete to receive a letter/number that determines the quality of our work. In some countries, such as Finland, there have been radical changes to the educational system. Now, they are ranked as having the highest educational system in the entire world. There are proven methods to improve-we just have to be open to them. Instead of set curriculum on how to teach, teachers should be free to explore their own methods of teaching. In the 21st century, we need people who will think creatively with open minds. Through the current standards, students are not encouraged to discover their future. And while students may be only 20% of our population, they are 100% of our future."

Honestly. Brought tears to my eyes. I wish I knew who wrote it. They would have received bonus points!

Below is an info-graphic with my students responses. I thought it was interesting enough to share, and perhaps provoke you to ask "What do you expect from your education?"

Click image to see live infographic.


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