Today a video of student Jeff Bliss, a sophomore at Duncanville High School in Texas, went viral fast. In the video below we are privy to Bliss passionately speaking his truth. He knows that learning is more than packets to fill out, more than passively fulfilling simple and mindless tasks.
You want kids to come into your class, you want them to get excited for this? You gotta come in here, you gotta make them excited. You want a kid to change and start doing better? You gotta touch his frickin’ heart. Can’t expect a kid to change if all you do is just tell him,” he says, as the teacher repeatedly tells him to leave the class.
While his message was pointed toward his experience in this classroom, it was born from a feeling that is boiling up in classroom after classroom across the country. It is why students are standing up and walking out of schools, protesting because they know there are better ways to learn together. They know they learn best when they are able to learn with teachers that teach to their hearts and not just to the test.
Students are not alone in this feeling, teachers and community leaders are also standing up and walking out. It is important to remember that we should not watch this video as an attack on teachers, but instead an opportunity to talk about what we want in our schools.
What struck me most about the video is that Jeff Bliss felt he needed to voice his ideas in a way that would get him kicked out of class. Why is this the only way for him to voice his visions about learning and education? Why did it take a 90 second video for us to realized that students “get it”? Why do we wait for students to burst or break before we listen?
Many of us are not waiting for students to reach a breaking point, we are proactively engaging them by providing positive venues and space for them to express their ideas, stories and voices. My work with Imagining Learning along with other organizations like IDEA, SoundOut, and Student Voice has has convinced me that we must proactively help students activate their power to change education and the world by providing this space.
Just yesterday, Imagining Learning launched a campaign to fund 35 listening sessions (see video) around the country. Our Listening Sessions are designed to create an appreciative environment of trust and openness so young people’s natural wisdom can emerge. All young people have ideas about their education and how it should be changed. They also possess deep wisdom about how their lives are affected by the world around them and how they can make it better. In the last 4 years we have done 20 listening sessions around the country. They are effective in providing the space to activate students toward using their voice and ideas to positively change the world and education not just to protest or react to it.
Jeff Bliss’ statements have sparked an important conversation about how we can provide positive spaces for engaging young people’s voice!
How are you providing space for young people to use their voice to change education or the world?