Friday, September 7, 2012

Power to the Students: Why Educators Need to Pay Attention to Student Discontent

This blog post is being simultaneously published with a companion piece on ASCD Edge, which you can read here. In it, Allison Zmuda interviews the subject of this blog post for additional insight into giving Power To The Students...

'Student Protest: Liverpool Walkout' photo (c) 2010, Matt Baldry - license:

Meet Nikhil Goyal, a seventeen-year old high school senior:

Nikhil has written a new book, One Size Does Not Fit All, a call to arms to the educational community that provocates with the voices that matter the most: students. Despite all of the political rhetoric and haggling in the press about one side or the other’s best intentions for students, it’s really the students that have the most to lose if we don’t get this right, and the most to gain if we do. In order to do the best we can for the next generation, we need to make them part of the process.
  • How often do we ask students their opinion about what they want to learn? How they want to learn it?
  • How often do we give them a real audience for their work? How often do we give regular, action-oriented feedback so students can improve their work because of their target audience?

Nikhil, in writing his book, has interviewed hundreds of peers, policy makers, and forward thinkers such as Howard Gardner, Seth Godin, Dan Pink, Noam Chomsky, and Diane Ravitch. In an effort to extend the message of Nikhil’s new book, we want to continue the collection of data around student perceptions of school and their school experience. Based on the data analysis, we can start making some real connections to intentional shifts and craft a plan of action around learning in the 21st Century.

We are asking our learning community to help us collect this data through a student engagement survey:

Why should you encourage students to take the survey?
1. It demonstrates that you care about them.
2. It demonstrates that you want to design meaningful learning experiences for them.
3. It demonstrates that you also grow from feedback based on your target audience.

Why should students take the survey?
1. It demonstrates that what they say matters.
2. It demonstrates that their ideas can spark new innovations in their own classrooms as well as create movement in classrooms around the country and the world.
3. It demonstrates the power of individual contribution in service to a larger cause.

What’s in it for you?
With school starting back up, we want to engage as many students as possible in the data collection. In return, we will give continual updates through ASCD Edge and on our individual sites about what the data suggests in terms of upgrading the learning for all students.

Sometime in the next two weeks, we are looking to collect as many responses as possible from schools around the country. The more information we collect, the better the conclusions we can draw about innovations for modern learning design and practice.

Please Tweet, Blog, Share, Pin, Email, EduClip, whatever you can to help get the survey out! On his “ABOUT” page, Nikhil shares a quote from Seth Godin, “When enough of us act, the system will have no choice but to listen, emulate and rush to catch up.” It’s time to stand up and act decisively. We have a duty to our children to get this right or future generations will suffer tremendously from the status of our schools. A generation is a terrible thing to go to waste.

This blog post was collaboratively written by:
Mike Fisher, a prolific blogger, educational consultant, and author:
Allison Zmuda, an educational consultant, author, and proud creator of a new venture:

Follow Mike on Twitter: @fisher1000
Follow Allison on Twitter: @compclass
Follow Nikhil on Twitter: @nikhilgoya_l

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