Rethinking…* the High School Drop Out Rate by Paying Attention to Students’ Own Expectations for Their Learning

Is there always pressure to perform or do I have opportunities to explore and make mistakes and learn from them without being branded as a failure? Do I have opportunities to tinker and make guesses?

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When high-school senior Gianna discovered that one student drops out of high school every 12 second, she decided to investigate and find ways to help the educational system rethink…* and change this distressing statistic. She came across the ‘big four’ reasons usually given for the high school drop out rate: academic failure, life events, behavioral issues and disinterest. But underneath these big four, she realized that schools, generally, try to fit all students into the same mold: either you fit in or you drop out. And that’s a problem, for obvious reasons: we are all wildly different in our personalities, interests, and learning styles. In this short video produced by Leaving to Learn, Gianna, calls for educators to pay increased attention to ten essential expectations that students have for their own learning, and which are usually ignored or undervalued in schools. I particularly loved the format in which she presents these ten learning imperatives–as questions. Students don’t want to be talked down to, they want to engage in dialogue.

  1. RELATIONSHIPS ~ Do my teachers know about me and my interests and talents? Do they help me to form relationships with adults and peers who might serve as models, mentors and coaches?
  2. RELEVANCE ~ Is it just a series of hoops to jump or is the work relevant to my interests? Do my teachers help me to understand how my learning contributes to my community and to the world?
  3. TIME ~ Am I expected to learn at a constant pace decided by the teacher or can I learn at my own pace? Is there time for my learning to be deep as well as broad?
  4. TIMING ~ Do all students have to learn things in the same sequence or can I learn things in the order that fits my learning style or interest?
  5. PLAY ~ Is there always pressure to perform or do I have opportunities to explore and make mistakes and learn from them without being branded as a failure? Do I have opportunities to tinker and make guesses?
  6. PRACTICE ~ Do we learn something and then immediately move on to the next skill or can we engage in deep and sustained practice of those skills we need to learn?
  7. CHOICE ~ Am I just following the same path as every student or do I have real choices about what, when and how I will learn and demonstrate my abilities?
  8. AUTHENTICITY ~ Is my work just a series of dittoes or is the learning and work I do regarded as significant outside of school by experts, family and employers? Does the community recognize the value of my work?
  9. CHALLENGE ~ Is it just about completing assignments or do I feel appropriately challenged? Am I addressing high and meaningful standards of excellence?
  10. APPLICATION ~ Is my learning all theoretical or do I have opportunities to apply what I’m learning in real world settings?

“I’d like to propose that schools evaluate themselves not just by students’ test scores but also by students’ judgments about how well the schools deliver on these imperatives.”

10 Expectations ~ via Leaving to Learn, published May 9, 2013.

 

Also check out this four minute animation to learn more about Leaving to Learn and Gianna’s research into the high school drop out rate:

Leaving To Learn ~ via Leaving to Learn, published March 9, 2013

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