Student Panel Speaks on Education Reform at the Education Nation Summit

At this year’s Education Nation Summit, reformers, policymakers, and funders were asked to look at education from a new perspective. A panel of students came before the audience to discuss their own experiences and their ideas on reforming the education system so they and future generations can receive a “world-class” education. Blogger Lisa Nielsen of  The Innovative Educator blog shared 20 key points made by the student panel in her article “20 Things Students Want the Nation to Know About Education.

  • I have to critically think in college, but your tests don’t teach me that.
  • We learn in different ways at different rates.
  • I can’t learn from you if you are not willing to connect with me.
  • Teaching by the book is not teaching. It’s just talking.
  • Caring about each student is more important than teaching the class.
  • Every young person has a dream. Your job is to help bring us closer to our dreams.
  • We need more than teachers. We need life coaches.
  • The community should become more involved in schools.
  • Even if you don’t want to be a teacher, you can offer a student an apprenticeship.
  • Us youth love all the new technologies that come out. When you acknowledge this and use technology in your teaching it makes learning much more interesting.
  • You should be trained not just in teaching but also in counseling.
  • Tell me something good that I’m doing so that I can keep growing in that.
  • When you can feel like a family member it helps so much.
  • We appreciate when you connect with us in our worlds such as the teacher who provided us with extra help using Xbox and Skype
  • Our teachers have too many students to enable them to connect with us in they way we need them to.
  • Bring the electives that we are actually interested in back to school. Things like drama, art, cooking, music.
  • Education leaders, teachers, funders, and policy makers need to start listening to student voice in all areas including teacher evaluations.
  • You need to use tools in the classroom that we use in the real world like Facebook, email, and other tools we use to connect and communicate.
  • You need to love a student before you can teach a student.
  • We do tests to make teachers look good and the school look good, but we know they don’t help us to learn what’s important to us.

    Have you heard similar sentiments in your classroom or from your child? Adapting the classroom to fulfill all these demands might seem like a daunting task, but on closer examination there are a couple key themes students desire in the classroom. A few that stand out are:

    • Making a personal connection, whether this is through understanding technology that students use, congratulating them on an academic victory, or interacting with them on a human level that shows them mutual respect as members of the classroom.
    • Giving them the skills they need for the future by offering classes they enjoy, teaching with technology, and introducing critical thinking skills.

    These students are asking for an environment that feels comfortable, offers emotional support, and teaches them skills that are applicable to the changing world of work and demands of higher education. Is it too much to demand from their education? Do any of the student concerns listed above stand out? How can you address at least one of these sentiments in your classroom?



    “20 Things Students Want the Nation to Know About Education,” by Lisa Nielsen. 28 September 2011. The Innovative Educator. Accessed on 30 September 2011. <>

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