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Philosophical Meanderings, Student Voices

Hey Mr.Knowitall, 2 Weeks Detention…For Talking Seriously About Education

Inclusion within discussion…it’s the one dynamic every serious discussion needs in order to come to a serious conclusion. When discussions lack that dynamic they are often poor in concluding theory and therefore often miss the point of what’s trying to be achieved. It’s not because the people who leading the discussions are incapable of reaching a conclusion that helps everyone, it’s because they simply don’t know everything they need to know to reach that conclusion. It’s this failure to conclude that make discussions fall apart or face fierce opposition in the end…and it’s this failure to include that students across America are tired of when it comes to education and the academic revolution movement.

Education in America has always been an adult’s conversation; it’s been the conversation that was almost always discussed behind our backs by our teachers, politicians, union leaders, and principals. We were only ever included in the conversation when we were needed to drive the point home, encourage our parents to be on their sides, or be programmed with everyone else’s ideologies. We weren’t allowed to have opinions and ideologies on it, our ages often used as the basis for discrediting and our inability to vote often used as the ammunition for insults while the adults flexed their superiority of “knowledge” and “experience” over our youthful heads.  Those select few who dared tried to join the conversation where often told to sit down, shut up and get out of a conversation they are too young and naive to understand. Those select few who dared rebel against those warnings didn’t get too far either, often being drowned out or discredited by those who feared our youthful, contemporary like ideologies and prospective because at times they went against what they wanted us to believe. It’s a shame that we are treated as if our naïve minds and inability didn’t  matter when it’s convenient for them to use us in the propaganda arsenal against those who don’t share their values but when we start smelling our butts and forming our own thoughts about the situations at hand we were treated as if we know nothing.

However, I don’t think, and yes I said “I don’t think” for you adults who are cringing, that we should be exiled in this discussion anymore. The time where we are exiled from the conversation has to cease to exist because for too long have we let education’s quality decline and remained silent while hoping the adults step up and correct it. We, just like teachers did, let things change for the worst and even in the midst of the quick decline in quality we have remained silent about it, we have failed to challenge the authoritarian dictators who have been dictating the state of education and they have let its promise grow dangerously bleak. We can no longer standby and wait for the adults to restructure the educational system that they have crippled over a period of nearly 3 decades because they themselves don’t know what their next move should be. No longer can we say silent because it is us not them who are trapped in the system of education.



11 thoughts on “Hey Mr.Knowitall, 2 Weeks Detention…For Talking Seriously About Education

  1. Jabreel, I hope you’ll connect with organizations like the Philadelphia Student Union, as well as recruit more student voices for the Coöp.

    What kind of community do you envision building for your peers that hosts and protects the kinds of conversations you describe?

    Let us know if we can help.


    Posted by Chad Sansing | January 17, 2012, 9:31 am
    • C, I actually have read into the Phili Students Union and the similar one in Washington State, I’m surprised a national one hasn’t come to the surface yet that works alongside other amazing organizations like SFER.

      Posted by Jabreel Chisley | January 18, 2012, 5:15 am
      • Saw this and thought of you, Jabreel:

        Are you organizing for progressive social change? Leading student movements on your campus or in your community? If so, read on.

        The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund has applications available for student activists who are building progressive movements for social change and will be enrolled in school during the 2012-13 academic year. Our website provides answers to questions about the Fund, the application process, and the students we support. If you know of students working for peace and justice, or if you have a list of activist contacts, please send this announcement along and refer potential applicants to this website:

        Via our friends at IDEA (including Scott, Melia, Kirsten, Adam, & David – did I miss anyone?)

        All the best,

        Posted by Chad Sansing | January 18, 2012, 7:39 am
  2. Do you know why kids aren’t in charge? Because they can’t be–they lack maturity and experience.

    Only recently have children seen fit to assert their positions WITHOUT the proper knowledge base, and think that’s fine.

    Do you what honest adult do whan they find themselves in a domain they know little about? They seek out information from those with knowldege and experience. That’s not a slam against kids. It’s just that adults realize kids are kids and have yet to achieve the necessary maturity to run the show.

    Also, your teachers listen to you (well, when you had a live one) and use what they know about you to try to make things better, but they are hindered by the politicians who really run the show.

    You should be a bit more humble and realize your youth prevents you form engaging with the same force and knowledge as people 3 times your age with at least that much more experience than you.

    It’s interesting–you complain about not being heard and that your opinions are valid, yet you also complain that adults are heard, regardless the validity of their positions.

    You can’t have it both ways. As you mature that will poke you in the eye frequently.

    And, if you really want a place at the table, deleting your comment thread is not the way to do it.

    Tell us all what you would change in order to see to it that the achievement gap is closed? I mean, that’s what the whole reform movement exists to do.

    Posted by Tee Eff Tee | January 17, 2012, 10:36 pm
    • I would disagree with about every point you made here. Maturity has little to do with age or experience. Your angle is flawed. Many adults have little maturity and their experience has not developed into wisdom or reflection, but massive burden with their own histories, their own bitterness, lack of imagination and need for power and control.

      Adults have had 100’s of years to fix the problems of education. Adults have cause the problems not children. If we even listened for a moment to children, we might learn a lot. Your lack of humbleness is striking. Jay has stated many different times, many different ways for education transformation. Education will not be changed at a table and it will not be changed by adults, nor children alone. It will change when we start listening to each other.


      Posted by dloitz | January 17, 2012, 11:54 pm
      • I wholeheartedly agree with David and Jabreel. Maybe its the so-called “experience and maturity” that has been the problem all along. With the idea that because they are adults, that they know better. The more that students are in charge of their education, the more we all will be pleasantly surprised with their voice, tone, accurate understanding and most certainly their level of wants and needs. Whoever said, we lived in a dictatorship? Oh that’s right, we do not. We live in a democratic republic, a democracy, that gives lip service to education, but rarely works hard to invest in it or take the time to understand it. The students live it, more than anyone else, shouldn’t they have the right to say, what it should be? Isn’t it there future? Isn’t it their life?

        Let’s all try to take a moment out to try and figure out the pathway going forward, rather than using the cynical history to continually enforce a failing system.


        Posted by caseykcaronna | January 18, 2012, 2:36 am
    • TFT, I don’t even know where to start with you, So i’ll just attempt to answer some of your questions and hope you don’t pounce on “my inability to understand you.” I actually have live teachers so lets just disable that misconception right there, and politicians didn’t make teachers and other educators sit back and stay quiet and they sure as heck didn’t make their unions do the same.

      Anyhow, I would bring children to the discussion table along side the adults that love to claim they know whats best so that serious and logical decisions pertinent to student success can be made. I’d like to see ridiculous test regimens go, re-professionalization of teachers and other educators, assessment of teachers, curriculum, and school leadership via the student population, requirements stating that superintendents and CEO’s of districts be lisc. teachers with at least 15 years experience, and principals that actually teach instead of dictate (just to name a few.)

      Posted by Jabreel Chisley | January 18, 2012, 5:12 am
    • TFT, #edreform concerns itself with the achievement gap; we concern ourselves with new models of education that do, indeed, let people have it both ways – people deserve both education and agency in their own lives and the freedom to take on excellent work (not tests) that matters to them and their communities. While the decisions children make may be different than those of adults, kids can make the decision to learn, as well as the decision to ask for help from an adult whenever an adult’s help is needed.

      That being said, I certainly welcome further explanation of what you think “the proper knowledge base” for education is. Push is welcome here.

      However, you will need to watch the tone of future comments. We care for one another here and even our most skeptical criticism is offered in kindness through questioning one another to understand one another better and to help one another do better work. Your tone seems condescending and comes across as patronizing to youth. That makes you a troll by our standards – and those are the only standards at issue here and now. We don’t feed trolls. I hope you’ll stick around, read more, and get a feel for how we address one another in posts and comments. Trust that your comments will be trashed if you continue lecturing any community member.

      I freely admit that some of us harshly criticize our system of public education as it is, but we do so in taking up our share of responsibility for changing the status quo. We don’t go after one another with snarky comments and bon mots.

      That you haven’t found a place where you can have it both ways doesn’t mean that you cannot. We can support you in finding a learning space that liberates and fulfills you. I wish you the best of luck in finding such a place, regardless.


      Posted by Chad Sansing | January 18, 2012, 7:36 am
  3. Do you know why kids aren’t in charge? Because they can’t be – adults will not allow them into the ranks of power.

    Based on the experiences I had around your age and my current right-wing authoritarian position as an attorney, I think adults don’t allow youths to be part of the discussion because they are apt to rudely and bluntly state “The Emperor has no clothes”. I also think youths scare the beejeebers out of many adults, perhaps because adults foist upon the young either identical or mirror-image pains previously foisted upon them — this may make some adults a tad bit afraid they will get bitten by those who don’t want to eat the garbage we feed to “kids”.

    Just my two cents.

    Continue speaking out.

    Best wishes,

    Posted by Brent Snavely | January 18, 2012, 11:28 am
  4. Jabreel, Thank you for this post–and the stir it’s caused–helping us get at some fundamental barriers to change. Also Chad, I appreciate the links to the Philadelphia Student Union and the Davis-Putter scholarship.

    Posted by Kirsten | January 23, 2012, 8:10 am


  1. Pingback: Digital Learning? Why Not Listening to What Students Say | Classroom Aid - May 14, 2012

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