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How Can I Learn if You Don’t Care?

April 3, 2009

For the last 14 years I have invested much of my time and energy trying to transform the classrooms of my school district by working with teachers to use technology to engage and motivate their students.  We have spent years equipping teachers and classrooms with the tools and professional development needed to reach this “Net Generation”.  

Each year there is a national survey that we encourage our students, Project Tomorrowparents, teachers, and administrators to participate in that gages their opinions on key educational issues.  Technology is a big part of the survey so it is something we use as we make plans for the near and distant future of technology implementation in our district.  I eagerly comb through the data trying to determine student’s opinions about what they would like to see in the classroom. 

These are a some of the questions asked on the survey:

“How do you use technology for schoolwork?”

“What kind of computer or Internet access do you have outside of school?”

“Imagine you are designing the ultimate school.  Which of these tools would have the greatest positive impact on your learning” (then they  choose from a list of 22 types of technologies)

“In some schools, students use mobile devices to help with schoolwork.  How would you use a mobile device to help you with your schoolwork?”

These are great questions and the survey gives us a chance to see things from a student’s perspective.  But the question that has given me the most insight into our teenagers has nothing to do with technology.  

The question is: “Which of these statements do you agree with? (check all that apply).  It then lists 16 possible responses.  

The one response that bothers me the most is:

“I believe my school cares about me as a person.”

26 % of U.S. students in grades 9-12 checked that they agreed with this statement.

26%!

That means that 74% do not believe that their school cares about them as a person!  This is a question that we have been tracking for several years and the percentage hasn’t varied much.  

We can do all the right things.  We can provide the best curriculum, with the best teaching pedagogy, and have the most innovative technology but if a student doesn’t feel like someone in their school really cares about them, we are just spinning our wheels!

This is something we have to address. This generation needs to know that we care.

Please leave a comment with reasons why you believe that only 26% of U.S. high school students feel that their school cares about them? Or better yet, what can we do to correct this?

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