In “Seen and Heard,” an opinion piece in the March/April 2006 issue of Teacher, former educator Antonia Lewandowski argues that students must take more responsibility for their education. Mary Downing, who teaches language arts at a charter school in New Jersey, shared the article with her 8th graders and asked them whose job their education is. Their responses are excerpted below.
I think that teachers have more responsibility for our education than we students do. We can’t tell our teachers what to teach us. They teach us what they think is mandatory for us to hear. If they [can’t] teach us, we cannot learn it, so it can’t possibly be our fault.
Teachers also need to be direct with students. They need to tell them, “I’m sick of you talking. I’m trying to do work, so sit down and do your work.” This may not work right away, but it works eventually. Teachers need to enforce the rules—they don’t do this enough.
In my opinion, students are 75 percent responsible for their education. I try to listen, pay attention, and take notes, but I get distracted. I don’t always do my best … but in the end, that’s my choice.
I think that the responsibility for my education is more mine than the teachers. But teachers can make learning easier by making songs for stuff. My old math teacher Mrs. Gadek taught us a song for adding and subtracting negative and positive integers. It goes to the tune of “Row, Row, Row, Your Boat.” It’s kind of lame but I remember it.
If the student wants to learn, and is trying, then the entire reason that the student is failing is because of the teacher and the parent.
Teachers … teach me what I need to know and keep me motivated to do my work. The rest is up to me.