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Leadership and Activism, Learning at its Best

Voices of Students!

How do you teach democracy?  If we look at how schools are designed, do they promote or hinder our ability to create active and informed citizens?  One of the reasons, I got into education is to help students find their voices.  To create a space that welcomes and helps students become critical thinkers.  On Monday, I sat around a table with a very diverse group of students.  They were destined for the State Capitol in Minnesota for the Charter School Day at the Capitol.  Organized by the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools, staff members arranged meetings with Representatives and our students.  Below is an excerpt of a blog students wrote:

So far, the senators and representatives we’ve met with have responded positively and have listened to our opinions on the issues. One representative mentioned accountability and supporting charter schools that get results. We feel that there is so much more to learning and showing what we’ve learned than by just judging results by our test scores. What we’ve been trying to show them is that we’re more than just numbers in a system. (See the whole blog:  Charter School Day at the Capitol)

To me her comments speak volumes.  In that short quote she encapsulates the concept that people want to be seen for who they are, not the sum of the products they produce.  I don’t know if the Representative heard her and was swayed, but her voice rings true.  Real people are behind policies, and we need to see into the future what the consequences will be on those most affected by them.  Today’s lesson in democracy is concluded.  You are dismissed.


About Jamie Steckart

Currently the Head of Academic Affairs for the Qatar Leadership Academy. Passionate about experiential and project based learning.


7 thoughts on “Voices of Students!

  1. nice.

    have you seen Steve Hargadon’s latest project?
    and Michael Wesch’s?

    let’s give up the mic.. no?

    i was thinking too – how cool if our buildings would start to be covered by faces of youth..

    Posted by monika hardy | March 4, 2011, 10:41 pm
    • Monika,

      That link to Steve’s project is amazing. I think we already have some student videos in the can that could be submitted. Right now I have about 10 students who are active video producers. I forwarded the link to the advisory team to submit. This looks like a great opportunity. If we want to teach democracy then we have to give them the tools to become active.

      Posted by Jamie Steckart | March 5, 2011, 4:14 pm
  2. We need one of these in Virginia for our four charter schools.

    Policy-makers need to meet the kids and see the work to make informed decisions. The data really doesn’t tell you anything about the human needs innovative schools address.

    Keep up the posting, Jamie –

    Posted by Chad Sansing | March 5, 2011, 12:33 pm
  3. Jamie, The teachers I spoke to last week in Wisconsin talked again and again about how powerful it was for them to take their students to Madison to protest with them, and to hold UNITE AGAINST WALKER posters shoulder to shoulder with their high school juniors. Thank you for sharing this.


    PS I’m pretty jealous of your forward-thinking MN ed reform climate. You all have been at this for a lot longer, and a lot more thoughtfully, than many on the east or west coast, in my experience. Your school may be evidence?

    Posted by Kirsten Olson | March 7, 2011, 11:07 pm
    • Kirsten,
      It is always funny, I think most people think we are fly over country. It is true that MN has been a pretty hot place for innovation and I am meeting with some state reps next week and some colleagues about not reform ideas, but tossing the idea around of whole re-design. We may be getting to a point where the traditional schools have squeaked out as much testing improvement and now professionals are pushing back saying that these test prep practices are harmful to kids. We know that inquiry, pbl, experiential, field studies, reading books that are fun to read, beats worksheets and rote memorization. It is time we take back our professional, and what this post confirms is that kids want to be treated like real people, not just some aggregated score.

      Posted by Jamie Steckart | March 9, 2011, 2:04 am
  4. Jamie, Check this out. Maybe some of your students could participate?

    The originator of this project, Kim Farris-Berg just commented over at a post of mine. She is fabulous and someone you should connect with, and also very much a part of the Ed Evolving, Ted Kolderie group. They’ve been kicking ass in MN for a long time, just as you say, while the East and West coast smolder in their own self-importance and get a lot less done.

    Posted by Kirsten Olson | March 9, 2011, 10:44 pm

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