At the SCEA Better Education Conference on Thursday 1 June, a number of upper primary and secondary students from our schools were invited to give a student perspective to a number of questions related to education. Although some of the questions were about personal preferences, others provided invaluable insight into how we as teachers can best cater for the varying needs of our student population.
The students agreed on that they learn the best when they are having fun and doing something they like. They also emphasized teacher clarity so that they understand the question and considered engaging lessons very important. Nice teachers who are not too serious and seeing their friends also made them look forward to going to school. The best lessons seemed to involve higher thinking and skills, such as expressing emotions through Art and Drama and engaging in challenging Maths problems.
The possible future careers for this group of students included interior designer, speech pathologist, and sports psychologist. Schools can prepare the students for their future careers by giving them various opportunities and being willing to help when needed. University or further study was the goal for everyone on the panel because they like challenging themselves and solving problems. If they had a chance to be the principal for a day, they would play with young students and provide more subjects for on-line study. The students agreed that they are comfortable asking most teachers to modify their learning. They encouraged teachers to listen to the students, conduct student surveys and make the students co-authors of their learning.
Perhaps surprisingly, the students indicated that technology has its dangers and parents and teachers have a responsibility to monitor its use. Access to smartphones should be delayed and safety measures need to be in place. Teachers should evaluate the value of websites and apps being used and make sure that students don't become dependent on technology but keep using their minds as well. In the future, technology will have an even bigger role in education but the basics like English and Maths will still be taught. The students are wishing for more grammatical education, focus on people skills and online testing.
Summary by Mariel Howard