The Great American Teach-In: Listening to Students

These days, it seems like everyone is talking about how to fix education. Open the paper, turn on the news shows, and you can see billionaires, businessmen, union leaders, former superintendents, and even the occasional teacher and parent talking about how we have to fix our schools. There is, however, a powerful constituency that is missing from the dialogue:

The kids.

I think it is time to listen to what they need their schools to be.

To that end, a bunch of us have gotten together to launch The Great American Teach-In. On May 10th, we are calling on those same billionaires, businessmen, union leaders, former superintendents, teachers and parents to pay attention to the kids as they write their Declarations of Education.

What is the Great American Teach-In?

A day to remind ourselves and our students that citizenship means asking questions, finding answers and standing up for what you believe in...and that education must mean that too.

Every classroom, every student, every school...draft a declaration of educational rights.

When it comes to education, what are the truths you hold self evident? Let's make time to talk about these ideas within our learning communities.

Then, let's document these truths, and continue the hard work of making a high quality public education accessible to all who want it.

We have a goal -- 100,000 students writing their declarations of education on May 10th. Can you imagine? 100,000 students all telling the adults: "This is how we learn best. This is what we need from our schools. This is what we need." We want the students to consider some essential questions about schools and learning:

  1. When and where do I learn best?

  • What does an ideal learning environment look like?
  • How closely do our current places of learning resemble our ideal learning environment?
  • What barriers to learning/growth exist within our current learning environments?
  • What will we do to make our current learning environments more perfect places to work and learn?
  • So what can we, the adults, do?

    Sign up and sign your students up.

    Look at the lesson plans, share them with the kids, help students find their voices on May 10th, and then share those voices with the world.

    And spread the word: blog about it; tweet about it; tell your colleagues and your community about it. (The hash-tag is #teachin11.)

    You can even write your own Declarations of Education.

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Let's have conversations in every community about what we dream our schools can be. And let's make sure that we start those dreams with the dreams, hopes and needs of the children we teach.