Students and school design (part 2): What two of my former students have to say

My former students sometimes write me directly with their own commentary on issues of school design. TB, for example, is finishing his time in the Navy and now looking to go back to school. He seems really excited to be getting to learn about things he cares about and his self-awareness is striking:

…change always seems crazy in the beginning, but I’m going to San Diego city college for aviation mechanics putting my curiosity to take things apart and see how the tick to work hopefully after I finish an associates with them I’ll be able to transfer to embry ridding aeronautical university.”

TB has an educational plan and he’s executing it. I couldn’t be prouder. For the purposes of this post, however, it’s his comments on the REAL School design that are most relevant (the student comments here are chats and emails and I have left them un-edited to ensure the student’s voices are heard): 

What’s up mr Gabe I’ve read some if the post on your blog Very interesting topic and I too believe that’s it’s time to explore different ways of educating and intergrate some of the new technology into into the buildings and I think more community involvement is needed to raise the students interest in their education and the value of hard work. These days with the fast life being more appealing than school I feel as a lot of kids are being sucked into it and that’s means less kids in school less money for the school which means less materials needed for the curriculum meaning less of a chance for the student still siting in their seat so yeah that’s my opinion on the matter which in turn is mostly the same as yours so I hope this dream becomes a reality

It was quite striking to me to how TB equates community involvement in schooling directly with raising student interest. He seems to suggest that rather than competing with the things that students care about, we should try to bring those things into the learning of the school.

Miguel (the subject of my recent posting of our facebook conversation regarding his entrepreneurial venturescommented recently on this blog’s “Get Involved” page (not clear why he chose to comment there). Like TB, he chose to jump into the conversation in a public way and he has clear opinions opinions about what kinds of learning would be useful to him:

i was reading over some of your posts and i was wondering.. one day in class, you gave everyone an assignment for homework about Indians.. no one did it, so the next day, when you were ready to talk about this topic, everyone was clueless. i was telling you that i learned some things about them, like how on Indian painting, the rich people have their hands painted red to show their wealthiness. i took you by surprise because i was the only person that was able to have a conversation on this topic.. but honestly, just like everyone else, i didnt do the homework.. it just so happened that i went to an idian restaurant the night before with a japaneese family and i met some indian people there.. i asked about the paintings on the wall and they explained everything to me. but i was able to pull of a conversation of the little bit of knowlege that i had.

so this brought me back to hands on training.. sort of.. students are always told to read this and that.. and thats as far as we get to know.. wouldnt it be nice to learn by experience? why read an article on how to build a website, when you can hav someone teach them about the fundamentals of it.

why read a chapter on Indians and their traditions when we can have one come in.. and say, Hi my name is Habib.. and we wear turbans because of _____….

stories keep getting passed on to the next generation, but the further it goes, the more pieces start missing and others added..

so i say we get to the source of the subject, the pro.. the I WAS THERE guy.

its just an idea..

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