Monday, April 4, 2011

The Perfect School?

In a world where education reform is on the forefront of many people's minds and agendas, one may often find themselves wondering, "What makes the perfect school?" While I could wax poetic about it, instead I posed the question to my ninth grade English students. While some gave exactly the answers we might expect or dread, others were particularly interesting and insightful. Here's are a few examples:

"The rooms would all be different and not boring. We could decorate our lockers to show our personality. When in class, we would have the option to have individual attention from a teacher or teacher aid, for as long as we wanted. Or  maybe we could go into a separate room with a teacher to help us catch up or understand the lesson better. There would always be a counselor in the building at all times in case we needed to talk. We would get to choose our classes through out the year instead of all at the beginning."

"The school of my dreams would have to go something like this. The school would kind of be cut in half. One side with the misbehaving kids, and the other half with the kids that actually want to learn. Each side would have every subject just like we have it now, but the students on the good side would have all the nice teachers and on the other side the students would have the grumpy teachers (I'm not trying to be mean or anything, but I think you know what I'm talking about). The class rooms would kinda be big but not too big." 

"For the perfect high school, I would want friendly classrooms and no gangs, and that you can actually feel safe and not scared that you’re going to get beat up.  The kinds of classes I would want would be fun, but challenging, yet has to do with school, and the world. Just so that we’ll know what’s happening in different places all around the world.  The teachers I would like would be fun. They'd also be friendly and teach really well so that every student knows what to do and what is going on, and kids would want to come because school would be fun to them." 

" All the students at the school will get along, there will be no gang violence, and absolutely no guards, due to the fact that everyone here would be violence free. I don’t know why, but I feel as though if we were to have more activities here at school the gang violence would calm down a bit. The classes would be the ordinary subjects for each grade. There will be a gym where during any class all the girls can go down there and work out if they wanted to, and the other day the boys would get to do the same. The classrooms would all be painted in a bright colors. The classrooms would be big, but not like huge- normal sized. The limit for each classroom would be 10 students. This is so every student would get a chance to have a better education, and so the students would be able to listen better also. While I am talking about everyone listening better in my perfect high school there will be NO slackers. If there is to be they’ll all be in a different classroom." 

I hope you enjoyed a peek into the minds of some ninth graders who are thinking about their education. 

If you have ideas or questions- please comment!



  1. Wow. It's kind of sad that schools feel unsafe for today's kids. But as you get older (college and adult), you'll have more choices as to what type of environment to spend your time. Good luck.

  2. I was listening to the radio the other day, and they were talking about a school in Victoria (south eastern Australia) called 'Candlebark' where a famous Australian Author has created what he thinks is the perfect school. It sounded pretty amazing, there were no bells, lots of space, and it sounds like a super flexible place. They were saying that their number 1 rule was that you were not allowed to exclude anyone. So if someone came over and wanted to join in, you had to let them. I wonder if that might be a better way to run schools?

  3. I love the idea of students being able to decorate their lockers. A little freedom and individuality gives us a sense of independence. Classrooms too! Every teacher has a different style, subject to teach, way of teaching, opinions and beliefs. The norm is seeing classrooms as a place to learn. Classrooms should be a place to be ourselves and get to know our teachers as well as why they love the subjects they teach so much! We should be able to see the passion in their teaching and toward us students, right? Our instructors should also want to get to know us and find out what we like and how we learn. Love your ideas! I believe an open mind can go a longer way than a narrow one. :) Sincerely, Anonymous

  4. It makes me sad that ninth graders have to worry about gang violence in school.

  5. So many great ideas here! I wish that we in the US would value education enough to fund some of the changes listed here that would be truly beneficial to our children.

    I love the ideas that allow students and teachers to express themselves, like individual locker decorations and painting classrooms different colors. I think the trend in education recently has been a "one size fits all" approach and so many students have gifts that are going to waste because they don't fit the current mold. We should be encouraging our children to embrace their talents and stop making them feel stupid if they can't perform at the top of some ridiculous test on every subject.

    I would love to see some of these students go further with their ideas and become a voice for change for future generations.

  6. As a teacher it does make me sad that there never seems to be enough attention given to the kids that work hard, but rather to the ones that are slacking and as a result, failing. My question to the students... what can you do to help other students see the importance of trying and working hard in their classes?

  7. Love the idea of decorating your lockers. Can you at least decorate the inside of them?

    I was saddened that violence was mentioned in more than one post. I wish that no student had to worry about that while at school.

  8. I think one of the most interesting recurring themes that I saw in a few of the students' comments was the idea of separating or removing any "slackers" from their classrooms.

    And really, I think this is interesting because it raises the question, "who would you exclude?"

    If the school is split in half, with the misbehaving students on one side and the committed students on the other side, how would you decide who belongs on each side? Do students get to decide? If so, do they have to stay on the side they chose forever?

    Or will the students being separated according to the administration? If that's the case, then where do they draw the line? Do they decide that any student that acts out goes to the "bad" side? Is there a threshold that a student has to hit before they're sent to the other side.

    Also, if a student gets sent to the "bad" side, does that mean that we should expect that they'll forfeit their privilege to learn for the rest of their schooling careers? So what do we do with students that are exceptionally gifted but act out in classes?

    These are questions have been asked a thousand times, but I feel that it would interesting to read what the students think about them.



  9. My high school was a type that liked to try lots of new ideas. And we had a special hour twice a week where we could go to a teacher for extra help, or for a non-class related activity... kind of like what the first suggestion said.

    I think it was a good idea, but after awhile the teachers got burnt out and would just do things like show videos, and the 'slacker' students would go to study sessions but not study...just talk and fool around. Do your students have any good ideas on keeping that from happening?

  10. I feel so sad that you guys are worrying about feeling safe in school. I promise when you get to college, the classes will be sorta like you want them to be.
    A college Student

  11. I think the onus of burden for many of these issues listed falls on the teachers and challenging the students to perform. In order for them to live up to that challenge, we need to reduce the restrictions on them for keeping the kids in line. They don't need to separate the bad kids from the good, just discipline the bad ones as it happens and use a behavior modification plan. With the current trend of removing the union protections from the working class, the most creative and efficient teachers would then rise to the top and the slackers would find different vocations.

  12. I feel for the teachers today! The creative ones are choked and have to teach according to a TEST... The fun has been taken out of schools and they are more like a boot camp which may be instilling some of the violent behavior! There are some teachers that do not do their job as well and that makes it even harder for those who do teach and love what they do... Way to comment teens and keep letting your voice be heard!~