What does it say that after eight, ten, or even thirteen years of formal schooling the majority of students cannot explain the process of education in that they participate in? SoundOut believes that every student should be able to verbalize what they are a part of when they come to school. For that reason we have developed the Meaningful Student Involvement Learning Process.
The Meaningful Student Involvement Learning Process is designed to maximize student learning while realizing their involvement potential throughout the educational system. Each of the following components of the Learning Process is neither a step nor an end in-and-of-itself; rather, each is an interlocking platform that can serve to ensure the meaningfulness of student involvement.
Starting in kindergarten and extending through twelfth grade, students should have the opportunity to expand their capacity to be meaningfully involved throughout education.
The following Learning Process represents a constructivist perspective, in the sense that it is essential for past student learning to be acknowledged in order to build upon and progress. Regardless of the grade a student experiences meaningful student involvement, their previous knowledge about education should be assessed and built upon.
The Meaningful Student Involvement Learning Process
- Learn about learning. Learning is no longer the mystery it once was. We now know that there are different learning styles, multiple learning supports and a variety of ways to demonstrate learning. In order to be meaningfully involved, students must understand those different aspects as well.
- Learn about the educational system. The complexities of schools are not known to many adults. Theoretical and moral debates, funding streams and the rigors of student assessment are overwhelming to many administrators, as well as teachers and parents. However, in order for students to be meaningfully involved in schools, they must have at least a basic knowledge of what is being done to them and for them, if not with them.
- Learn about education reform. There are many practical avenues for students to learn about formal and informal school improvement measures, particularly by becoming meaningfully involved within those activities. Sometimes there is no better avenue for understanding than through active engagement in the subject matter, and school improvement may be one of those areas.
- Learn about student voice. While it seems intuitive to understand the voices that we are born with, unfortunately many students seems to lack that knowledge. Whether through submissive consumerism, oppressive social conditions or the internalization of popular conceptions of youth, many students today do not believe they have anything worth saying, or any action worth contributing towards making their schools better places for everyone involved. Even if a student does understand their voice, it is essential to expand that understanding and gain new abilities to be able to become meaningfully involved.
- Learn about meaningful student involvement. While meaningful student involvement is not “rocket science”, it does challenge many students. After so many years of being subjected to passive or cynical treatment, many students are leery or resistant towards substantive engagement in schools. Educating students about meaningful student involvement means increasing their capacity to participate by focusing on the skills and knowledge they need. Only in this way can they be effective partners, and fully realize the possibilities for education today and in the future.
When the Meaningful Student Involvement Learning Process is complete, schools should use what the evolving capacities of their student body to re-inform the next process, as students in the cohort will certainly be able to become meaningfully involved in yet more expansive ways. This is the re-invigorating challenge of meaningful student involvement: As students are always evolving, so should schools. That should not equate the end of tradition; instead, it should mark the beginning of a transformation that never ends. That is what learning is all about.