“Please save your praise, we don’t want it. Don’t invite us here to tell us how inspiring we are without doing anything about it. It doesn’t lead to anything.”
And with that, climate change activist Greta Thunberg sums up so much of how we also treat student input in schools.
Listening to our youth does not mean a few student panels at conferences for adults: “It is all about the kids! We had a panel of them, and they did such a great job, and it was SO inspiring!”. Nor does it mean tokenistic, nonvoting positions in committees, school boards, and other adult groups. And it’s definitely not school groups like Student Council that have little agency or decision-making power over anything that’s important. These so-called student voice opportunities are mostly ways for us adults to feel good about ourselves, not about meaningful input.
Our children care deeply about what happens to them in their education. What if we stopped patronizing our students and instead actually DID SOMETHING DIFFERENT? Anyone? Anyone?