The voice of children, full of life and energy. Questioning, debating, opinionating and learning. I am trying to write this editorial on Student Voice and I can’t concentrate due to my children talking incessantly. I shouldn’t complain. Where are my earplugs?
In the past, children came to school to listen to the teacher so that their heads could be filled with knowledge. They should be “seen but not heard.” Being able to regurgitate what they had been told was the most important thing so that they could move on to a job where they could, once again, do what they were told.
Times have changed. The workforce now requires people who can think creatively, work collaboratively in teams and communicate effectively. Skills such as analyzing, synthesizing, designing and problem solving have become far more important than regurgitating knowledge. Almost anything one needs to know is a few clicks away on the internet. Student Voice is paramount in developing powerful learners and successful citizens.
The students themselves are the most important influence on their own learning. The school physical structures are now being designed to help children develop these skills and attitudes. The current STEMWorks building development is creating spaces for children to work collaboratively and creatively. Gone are rows of desks facing the teacher. Classrooms have been opened up with large entrances to make them part of a variety of learning spaces. Children will have seating in booths and circles to facilitate team work for problem solving and they will collaborate with students from other classes, units and schools.
Teaching methods have changed from chalk and talk to the students designing their own learning and assessment with the teachers. Every opportunity is seized upon for student learning and solving real problems.
A good example of Student Voice was the Anti-Bullying Day initiated and organized by two Year 6 girls which resulted in deep learning by all students who worked collaboratively with teachers on the activities.
Another example of this occurred last Friday when a game, King of the Hill, played by some Years 6/7 students became too rough and a boy got pushed and hurt. In the past, the teachers would have taken control and banned the game. Instead, the problem was put back on the students to solve using our School Values of Good Manners, Friendliness, Courage and Resilience. The students came up with a set of agreements on how the game should be played and what would happen if some did not stick to the agreements.
Everything we do at school must have its focus on learning. We do not rescue children from their problems; we help them solve their own problems. We increase the challenges to stretch the learning. We let children fail because we know that the best lessons learned are from our mistakes. We give responsibility and have high expectations. We ask questions and let children talk. We must stop and listen and let the children do the talking….and the learning.
Bob Thiele, Principal