Oftentimes when schools have issues, they tend to overlook their greatest resource–a resource packed with untapped creativity, problem-solving skills, and perspectives. What if that resource was right in front of them the whole time? What if that resource was the largest population in the school–the students?
On April 26, The Talon staff surveyed students on their concerns about school. The students had a lot to say, especially regarding dress code, cell phone issues, bullying, and racism–issues regarding our school’s culture. And these are matters that are fixable with the right approach.
Bullying has become a considerable problem in American schools, and many schools can’t seem to find the best approach to abolishing it.
One school in Ontario, Canada asked for student input. Collectively, this small group of students, each different from the other, came up with a plan. The plan was simple–they’d split the student body into houses and devised a point system. Each house competes for points and a winner is chosen at the end of each month. To earn points there is a range of competitions. Losing points, however, is more of an individual liability. For example, skipping class, ISS and D-Hall will drop the houses overall points.
The house plan promotes a greater sense of community, making students feel less alone, ultimately decreasing bullying. It’s a system that could be useful in our own school.
Often, the administrators are faced with a problem and might not know how to address it. Input from students and teachers would be a great way to solve it.
By making the school more democratic, we can figure out what works (and what doesn’t). If there’s an issue within the student body, administration should ask the student body at large how to fix it. Ask them what would make it better.
Similarly, if teachers are having an issue, the teachers should be asked how they want to solve it.
Another issue that many students find problematic is cell phone restrictions throughout the school day. Out of the roughly 250 students surveyed, 115 said that our school’s phone policies are “unnecessary and a bit childish.” Yes, it is widely understood that Nation Ford is a school, students aren’t allowed the opportunity to learn how to self-regulate.
By giving students more responsibility, we are able to figure out what works best for us and how to manage our time wisely.
Eventually, we will leave high school, and when we do, we won’t have the ability to balance the growing hold technology has on our lives with our normal day-to-day activities if we have no practice.
At the end of the day, all students want is to be treated with respect and treated fairly. We want to be prepared for our future, we want to learn, we want to grow, but most importantly, we want a voice. And the best way to do that is to change the dynamic.
You can’t expect teens to act like adults but while being treated like children. That’s where the community everyone works so hard to create and maintain every day begins to unravel.
All students want is space to study, improve, and become hard-working young adults.