Student voice: We must do more to empower teachers

At the SSAT National Conference 2015, four students from schools within the SSAT network answered the question ‘Are schools getting in the way of education?’ Watch above and read below as Megan Lawrence of Bedford High School gives her opinion…

One of the many questions I feel needs to be considered is ‘what is the purpose of education?’ There are many views on this matter, depending on your perspective. A teacher’s perspective may be to get their students through the appropriate examinations. Whereas a parent’s priority may be that their child is happy and fulfilled within the learning environment.

How, then, will we bring these two elements together to create a creative and compliant workforce that is fit for purpose post-educational input?

Education is only one tool in the box of learning strategies – experiential learning is the adaption of life skills to enhance underpinning knowledge. Marcus Aurelius once said ‘knowledge without understanding has no value’.

Therefore, it is the job of teachers to bring together many aspects of learning – ensuring all learning is founded in understanding.

The future is in our hands – we are the new generation. However, only past generations can supply us with the knowledge and awareness we need to be able to gain the power to change our world – as we now know it – into a safer, improved place.

The next question I would like us to deliberate is ‘Do the external pressures on teachers from the government, other schools, and educational experts to ensure that pupils pass exams having made appropriate progress from their starting point create a teacher-test exam culture which is only aimed at satisfying government league tables?’

Shouldn’t teachers have the right, as professionals, to judge necessary learning for each and every pupil? Whether that be academically, socially, or as part of a wider growth mindset and can-do attitude.

Shouldn’t teachers have the right, as professionals, to judge necessary learning for each and every pupil?

Surely turning pupils into confident adults who believe they can achieve is a better judgement of success? Teachers should find methods that empower students, to challenge themselves, rather than being fed constant supplies of readily-available answers.

This brings in the principle of ‘what a student learns best, they learn for themselves.’ Recent research shows that pupils learn up to 90 percent more when telling other people facts on a particular subject, rather than sit still listening to them being relayed by a teacher or another student.

If we are in a league table society, then teachers could be in the invidious position of sacrificing student fulfillment for success in examination results.

In what way can we achieve the same level of accomplishment (whilst providing students with inspirational challenges that keep their interest educationally focused) to generate a more rounded individual who will become fit for purpose amid the modern world?

This post is part of our #SSATstudents series. The other three posts are:

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Bedford High School is part of the SSAT network. Find out more about membership here.

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