Friday, October 1, 2010

How listening to students can help schools improve

Noguera, Pedro. How Listening to Students can Help Schools Improve.

Theory into practice: New York

This articles central theme is that listening to students can in fact improve classrooms and school culture. The findings come from interviewing and surveying 150 sophomore students within10 Boston based schools. The article speaks to school reform and how involving student voice can influence school decisions and procedures. The main conversations involving student voice were: teacher-student relations, the impact of “high stakes testing”, issues regarding discipline and safety, and student goals and motivation.

Noguera, states a few of the problems our school system face, he points out that downsizing schools might not be beneficial, then goes on to state that “although, no groundbreaking or previously unheard of solutions are offered”(206) that we the readers “may be surprised to learn that students do put forward practical, common sense insights into why certain practices are ineffective, and why others should be considered.”(206). Although, the article speaks on behalf of listening to students, the article doesn’t have a single direct quotes from a student. It merely states the results in blanket statements about how we should change our schools without giving any solid examples of how change made its way in any of the 10 Boston schools. In fact, the only part of the article that gives concrete examples of school improvement is from a school based in Bay Area. The author seems clearly in favor of large schools and as well as boasting about how he implemented change was “extraordinarily effective”. I found this annoying.

Although I whole-heartedly agree with the author in the sense that we should listen ears wide open to our students, the article seemed to state a lot of the obvious. I would have liked to read more about examples of where schools listened and how it affected the culture of the school. I would have liked to learn more about the Boston schools involved in this study and also the student body demographics. What I took away from reading this is the reminder to truly listen to the student voice daily.

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