If kids ran schools: Shorter classes, better technology, fewer worksheets

A former Georgia school chief asked middle school students about their schools and their classes. Their answers were illuminating. (AJC File)

Jim Arnold, former superintendent of Pelham City Schools, recently talked with some Georgia middle school students about what they liked about school and what they didn’t. He wrote a long piece about those conversations, which I have condensed. You can read his full account here.

I agree with Arnold that students are seldom consulted about school reforms, and we should spend more time asking them what works. They have some worthwhile suggestions.

By Jim Arnold

I had the pleasure of judging several students a few weeks ago as part of a district-wide scholarship competition in written essays and face-to-face interviews. I asked to speak to four of them afterward about their feelings toward schools.

The students were not scientifically selected. All four attend public middle schools in central Georgia and were strong students. I was interested in what they liked and didn’t like about school and their thoughts on the Georgia Milestones and the Georgia Performance Standards. The GPS are Common Core standards renamed by the state.

Here’s a sampling of their comments:

What they like about school

“The environment. The atmosphere is important because I like to be around happy people but I dislike how school is often taught because not all students learn the same way and everyone is not wired the same way. We don’t get asked about our opinions very often because kids will usually say what they think and not just what you want to hear.”

Three liked math the most; one chose physical education  All are in music and believe music classes “expose them to other cultures” and “it’s fun.”  All believe music helps them with other classes, primarily because “it’s like another language,” “requires concentration and…

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