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Guest Posts, Learning at its Best

To Give Students an Education, Give Them a Voice (Guest Post by Daniel Kao)

The role of a teacher is evolving. As industries, technologies, and the needs in the world change, so does our approach to preparing the next generation for their lives ahead of them.

In the past, teachers presented information in an organized and systematic manner in order to distribute valuable information to students. Schools were the only place that students could go to learn, because knowledge was completely centralized at the top with the elite professors and researchers. Knowledge was not freely accessible.

But teachers are no longer the ordained link between knowledge and students. Anyone with an Internet connection can access any piece of information known to mankind. In today’s world, the industry is no longer looking for workers who just follow instructions; machines are putting compliant workers out of jobs. Industries are hiring workers based upon what unique abilities they bring to the table.

Thus, we should be raising our students as individuals who are able to collaborate as classes, not as individual classes that compete as students. Students can no longer be treated as products of a factory line, because industries are no longer interested in pools of homogeneous workers.

Schools need to realize that every individual has a story, whether a teacher, student, or administrator. Schools need to realize that these stories are not disruptive to education, but highly necessary.

“What if teachers actually shared their personal stories with students who were willing to listen?” – Daniel Kao

In the most recent #stuvoice chat co-hosted by Imagining Learning and Student Voice  on twitter, participants joined in on a conversation about how to give safe spaces for students and teachers to share their voice.

Among the topics that were discussed were teacher feedback, communication, discussion, and even classroom and school hierarchy. But among the chat, a thread of human connection was undeniably evident. (Storify of the May 13th #stuvoice Chat)

“i think if students knew it had a big enough impact they would feel empowered by the responsibility” – Gabbi Morgenstern

“[Teacher]s must help create a culture of respect and invite student voice in diff ways. [Teacher]s must build relationships and know [student]s well.” – Laura Robertson

It’s nearly impossible to bring inspiring academic education to students when their basic human needs are not met. Every human has a need for relationship, trust, communication, and love. And just as companies and marketers are realizing that sales are very much an emotional decision, schools need to realize that education is also very much an emotional process.

When students are taught by a teacher who believes in them, trusts them, and wants them to achieve something above and beyond what the teacher themselves have achieved, students will naturally become more passionate and excited about learning. How would your high school experience be different if your teachers told you, “I am here to share the lessons I’ve learned so that you don’t have to make the mistakes that I did. You were born to change the world, so let me help you do that.” at the beginning of the school year?

Motivating students to succeed means more than simply giving them a reason to study. Students need to know that they matter. But it’s difficult for students to feel like they matter when they don’t have a voice. For too long, schools have been run on a one way street where teachers speak to students. But in order to foster healthy communication and a shift in academia, we must give students the opportunity to respond.

If we can’t even give our students a voice, how can we expect to give them an education?


Bio: Daniel Kao is a blogger, self-taught web designer, and a computer science student at UCSD. He blogs about topics related to learning, education, technology, and other tips and strategies on changing the world. He is authoring a book about changes that need to take place in the education system to
create an environment more conducive to natural and effective learning. In his spare time, he eats, dances, drums, makes other loud noises and explosions, and does awesome.



5 thoughts on “To Give Students an Education, Give Them a Voice (Guest Post by Daniel Kao)

  1. Daniel has a very intuitive “voice” already. Too bad all teachers can’t find theirs. Teaching is a work of heART. It’s all about relationship building and “getting out of their way” approach. Mighty idealistic, Daniel, but possible.

    Posted by Sandy | May 23, 2013, 8:32 am
  2. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over
    again. Regardless, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

    Posted by Nikolas Kermode | January 6, 2014, 2:25 pm


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