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Teacher and Educational Journalist

M.A.

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Many of my most responsible and effective student leaders (a) share my view on students having a highly effective role while still deferring on areas where teachers have more expertise, and (b) think black and white views on key political and educational issues as opposed to more "grey" positions is one of the major problems in our national habits of thought.

Mark

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The article does say, "While student views should be secondary to the expertise of teachers and administrators, they should still be an explicit and significant part of every school's decision-making processes.".

I'm pleased that you cited this, because it is a glaring example of how poorly conceived the whole initiative seems to be. If you consider a viewpoint to be "explicit and significant," then how on earth can you judge it to be "secondary"?

The very age/experience-based hierarchy this plan wishes to avoid to promote inclusiveness is still implicitly stated.

You should either commit to these kids 100% or not at all. Gray areas generally doom the most well intended initiatives

Life Skills Support Teacher

Quote: The article does say,

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The article does say, "While student views should be secondary to the expertise of teachers and administrators, they should still be an explicit and significant part of every school's decision-making processes.".

I'm pleased that you cited this, because it is a glaring example of how poorly conceived the whole initiative seems to be. If you consider a viewpoint to be "explicit and significant," then how on earth can you judge it to be "secondary"?

The very age/experience-based hierarchy this plan wishes to avoid to promote inclusiveness is still implicitly stated.

You should either commit to these kids 100% or not at all. Gray areas generally doom the most well intended initiatives

Being Representative

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Mr. Hauck,

The article does say, "While student views should be secondary to the expertise of teachers and administrators, they should still be an explicit and significant part of every school's decision-making processes."

Adults in a school aren't giving up their role as leaders in the school. Obviously, and crazy idea brought up by students would be vetoed (I'd hope at least), but I believe democratizing the school helps give students a sense of ownership in their own education. Sure, in decades past, it was easy to have students "sit down and shut up," but we don't live in that society anymore.

When I see young people who choose not to vote, I take that to mean that they aren't invested in their community. One way to increase that is to let them practice this involvement. Which is why we have mock elections and such, but those don't give the students leadership experience. I'd also imagine that the students who do take the lead, who do get the attention of adults in the room, are mature enough to handle the experience. It's happened in the past. Many great men and women of history were teenagers when they accomplished their goals. It would be sad to have these potential leaders in a classroom today where they weren't allowed to grow under adult supervision and guidance.

Life Skills Support Teacher

Mark: I am sure you recall a

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Mark: I am sure you recall a time in society when a young person had to "pay their dues" to be granted the privilege to sit among adults and be considered as equals. Such a privilege never occurred before the age of 18 and rarely before that young person married and established themselves with a viable career that would allow them to afford a home mortgage and other adult level amenities. This was the true barometer of maturity and granted one entrance into the world of adults.

In this increasingly dumbed down society of the last 40-50 years where mediocrity is the new standard of excellence, a kid that's "fully capable" has never been tested as a real adult with real adult responsibilities (as described above). Really, many kids grow up these days and expect to be treated as equals without ever having to prove themselves. This comes from a lifetime of having their self-esteems pumped up beyond reasonable limits. But sadly, this happens because too many of their parents grew up feeling overly self-entitled to the spoils of life without having to truly sacrifice or suffer hardship.

As the saying goes, people get the government they deserve. The same can be said for education. I only need to cite aspects of your blog post and many others, including the one about the Jewish teacher afraid to call on the carpet a student making anti-Semitic remarks.

And yet, so many of my supposedly intelligent colleagues can only point to standardized tests and a lack of iFad immersion as the villains in education.

By the way, ask esteemed musician Sheryl Crowe these days if she thinks cell phones are good for kids to use.

It's about personal behavioral choices and compromised traditional norms. That's why systems and societies fail.

Teacher and Educational Journalist

M.A.

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I disagree. I certainly am not suggesting that we "relinquish decision making." Those are your words and not my intent. I also think that, while there are students like the ones you describe, many of the high school students I know are fully capable and not at all irresponsible or mindless. I've even seen this working with so called at-risk troublemaker kids who, when given the responsibility of participating, stop getting into trouble.

And, by the way, I know adult leaders who are very mature, good in their occupations and in their home lives, who enjoy video games as recreation. And, after a long successful career, I too read comic books (well that pushes it a little...they are graphic novels!)

Teacher and Educational Journalist

Mike

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I have the opportunity to change how a social studies department in one school I supervise teaches. I'd love to follow this model. However, it would't be school wide. Is it possible to do this just in a social studies class? I imagine it could be.

Absolutely fine to do this in a classroom and a good start. Check out my earlier column that focuses on doing this on a classroom level....and good luck!

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-voice-teaching-democracy-mark-phillips

Implementing

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I have the opportunity to change how a social studies department in one school I supervise teaches. I'd love to follow this model. However, it would't be school wide. Is it possible to do this just in a social studies class? I imagine it could be.

retired teacher, Lagunitas School District Open Classroom

yes

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We recently finished filming at Mission Hill Pilot School, a K-8 public school in Boston. Being a pilot school allows Mission Hill to create many of their own policies. One of those is including student representatives on their governing board. This is a board with significant decision making responsibilities. Watching these 8th graders interact with adults, listen attentively, share their opinions, and act judiciously was a pleasure indeed. To call such involvement token is to miss the importance role modeling has for young people. Not every 8th grader would be ready to take on such a task, but the ones who are should be given the opportunity to lead by example.

Life Skills Support Teacher

Teachers can model democratic

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Teachers can model democratic principles through other means rather than relinquishing or sharing decision making into the hands of inexperienced children. I would rely on an effective classroom activity used in the past where students run for "office" on the classroom and conduct appropriate "campaigns." Add this to the teacher imparting their own knowledge of the free democratic system via classroom discussion or direct instruction should be sufficient until students reach the age of 18 when they are free to officially register and participate on their own.

I'm sorry, but American society no longer raises children to accept some important adult responsibilities prior to the age of 18, because we have descended into a retro-adolescent obsessed "play" society where many seek to perpetuate their childhoods and all their trappings well into their thirties and beyond. All one needs as proof is to note the number of thirty-somethings (mostly males) who still play videogames and read comic books, two very juvenile activities that truly mature adults abandon years earlier.

With the kind of mindset embraced by our youth, it would be foolish to entertain their input on important matters if only for some token non-bearing function within the decision making process.

As for the U.S. choosing not to ratify the United Nations policy regarding children's "rights," I applaud that move. Our Constitution provides a sufficient menu of guarantees of freedom and liberty for ALL Americans, regardless of age, that the United Nations could never surpass.

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