Student-Centered Means Students Need to Be Heard

Apr 16, 2018

High school: "You failed.”

Going to bed at 1:00 am, waking up at 6:00 a.m. The test sits on our desk, and our minds go blank. Four or more hours making flash cards, looking at our notes, memorizing it all just for our minds to shut off. The bell rings and we look down to only see a couple questions answered. 

The next day we go to class and our teacher sits us down to talk. They’re disappointed: “Why didn’t you study? You failed the test. I thought you were better than this.” 

Over and over again we think of the word "failure," but never did our teacher ask how many hours we studied. They never listen when we say, “I really did study. My mind just goes blank when I look at my test.” They only seem to show interest in the way we learn when the grade is above average. 

We go home to our parents, and they start in: “Why did you fail this test?” “Were you actually studying?” “We thought you were better than this.” Those endless nights of preparing for those tests just to hear the words, “You failed.” 

Nobody takes the time to focus on the kids who struggle when it comes to test taking; teachers don’t listen! The students know how they learn best, so why shut them out? When they ask for an alternative, sit them down and talk about it. Don’t just assume they want the easy way out. 

Our school is “student centered,” which means the student is allowed to go at their own pace. Clearly this type of system isn’t working; some of us are sitting in the back of the room, bored, and the rest of us are struggling to keep up. Our teachers seem to only focus on the kids who are bored in the back of the room because the work is too easy. 

The majority of us are trying to pass our classes, but when teachers constantly shut us out for struggling, we shut ourselves out. There must be a solution so that we all get an equal education. That could mean coming up with more advanced classes, offering more electives, allowing the student to make their work more personalized, and allowing us to put more input into our education. 

You can’t call our education "student-centered" when teachers won’t listen to us. Use us as a resource to improve the learning environment; we’re not only here to learn. We know it is shocking, but we love to voice our opinions. Turn our voices into something positive and allow us to have a say in our education! 

Teachers should be more open when it comes to alternatives for our education because, believe it or not, some of us actually take it seriously. Teachers: this wasn’t us trying to criticize you. We just want you to take some time and reflect. When we ask for an alternative, listen to us. Don’t shut us out because truth is, we'll just end up shutting down.

Leanne Bryant is a student at Richmond High School.