To begin day three of the SoundOut Summer Camp, I asked students to write down every single question they could focused on schools. Of the twenty students there, I received at least ten questions from each one. It was the page with forty-five questions that surprised me. However, one question stood out from the rest in my eyes:
Why do schools obfuscate so much from students?
As these learners scoured through evidence of education reform from the last 50 years, I had them pour over reports, studying guides and tales of student involvement, voice, engagement and empowerment. They wrestled with the structure of schools, and watched as students around the world showed them what Meaningful Student Involvement can look like. We watched examples of:
- Meaningful Student Involvement in learning from Canada
- Meaningful Student Involvement in teacher hiring from Australia
- Meaningful Student Involvement in school evaluation from the US, and
- Meaningful Student Involvement in education advocacy from the UK.
After exploring these activities, students grappled with the meaning of meaningfulness from their own perspectives. They had conversations about several questions, including:
- What makes something meaningful to you?
- Can something be meaningful in schools?
- Why does Meaningful Student Involvement matter?
From this vantage point, students revisited the question about the purpose of school, as well as the hidden curriculum of education.
— SoundOut (@SoundOutorg) August 4, 2015
Finally, towards the end of the day they began exploring other schools’ applications of Meaningful Student Involvement, student voice, student engagement and student/adult partnerships. In this time period their learning began coming together from three days. They started connecting meaningfulness with the topic of education reform; classroom learning with school board decision-making.
In our next steps, we’ll explore the different elements of Meaningful Student Involvement. We’ll also examine examples in-depth and continue connecting the broad issues surrounding taking action.