What students think about the future of schooling


In thinking about what schools might be like in the future it’s imperative that we ask our students! They are the ones whose freshness of vision, and currency of experience in the existing system we can learn a lot from.

It’s been nearly 15 years now since the original New Zealand Curriculum Framework was released, providing the structure and guidelines for what is taught in NZ schools. A couple of years ago the NZ Ministry of Education embarked on a process of consultation with teachers, principals and other educators as part of the “NZ Curriculum Project“, leading to the development of a revised and updated curriculum framework.

One of the lesser visited part of the website set up to support this project is a section that reports on feedback from students who were asked for their thoughts about the future of schooling, with questions including:

  1. Thinking about the future and the things you would most like to do, imagine yourself as a successful person. What is a successful person?
  2. What’s your favourite subject and why?
  3. What helps you learn? What advice would you give to teachers?

The students’ responses have been summarised in sections linked from the headings listed below. Significantly, two groups out of the ten commented that this was the first chance they had ever had to comment on their learning, and welcomed the opportunity.

Their responses are insightful, for instance, on the topic of technology:

Technology featured significantly in students’ views of the future. Many perceived the advancement of technology as negative, especially in terms of making people “lazier”. One student commented: “With technology, it seems as if things are automatically done for you… you won’t go the extra mile to do things for yourself.” Another said: “…the Magic Pen … will tend to switch people’s brains off during class because it can download the information given during a lesson. Students and/or people won’t have work they produced themselves.”

School was generally seen as an important means of acquiring the skills and qualifications necessary for success. Some comments relating to this were:

  • “To have a really good job you need to have a good education.”
  • “No school, no job.”
  • “I think to be happy you have to be successful. To be successful you have to go hard at school.”
  • “School goes past very quickly. You need to make the most of it, be motivated to set goals and achieve them; take opportunities … it might be your only chance.”

Aside from the written summaries available on the site, there are several video clips that capture many of the thoughts and opinions of the young people who were surveyed. I found the student comments about teachers particularly interesting 🙂

2 thoughts on “What students think about the future of schooling

  1. Interesting comments you have made about student input. In gathering data for my eFellow research project, one of the most interesting things that has come out of it so far is from the interviews with year 5/6 students 1-1. I was discussing this with the principal this week and told him that we should be holding interviews with students as a regular part of our reflective cycle. Although I was asking the students about podcasting, they artlessly ranged over a variety of subjects that were important to them and gave me all kinds of unsolicited information about their take on school life. There is an often untapped wealth of analytical reflection available to educators – free of charge! – even in primary schools.

  2. I think Student Voice is critical to the way forward in successful education practice. Had the pleasure of being at The Wellington College Teacher Only Day last Monday. It began with a group of articulate young men, telling their teachers what they do well and what they like about what teachers do with IT. They went on to tell their teachers what they could do better. A little later, two year 10 lads talked about the collaborative work their class was doing on a novel in English. Because the wiki they were using didnt have as many desirable features as they thought could be utilised, they set about making their own and developing a marketing plan for it, though it would remain free for Wellington College. Such are the times we live in!!! Our young people have much to offer us. It is important we take note.

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