What they say matters. Let’s pay attention.

At yesterday’s opening ceremony for the CAIS Student Leadership Conference at ECS, I had the opportunity to offer a few remarks. Instead of waxing poetic about my ideas, I decided to read some of the comments that I have heard from my 2051 Student Focus Groups across Canada. (I shared some of these trends in our recent newsletter, if you want to read about them.)

I took a chance, with the guidance and approval of Kathy Nikidis, who did something similar in her opening remarks, and I asked the students in the audience to tweet their best advice on schools of the future, using the #project2051 hashtag.

Here is what I got last night – directly tweeted!

  1. Schools of the future should offer activities that enable students to experience real life work and enhance the transition.
  2. Schools should customize learning to individuals. General learning makes workers. Individuality makes leaders.
  3. Don’t pressure us into fields we don’t like, instruct us about gender equality and sexuality + better sex ed education
  4. Classes that educate us about issues both in our community and globally. Classes that inspire us to help
  5. Bring back home economics, we need to learn to cook and other basic household tasks
  6. Schools should prepare students for their future careers. Simply asking “what do you want to be?” does not suffice
  7. Prepare us for the real world!!! Like taxes and mortgages, no one’s going to ask us how to graph a quadratic equation for a job
  8. Teach us real world applications. We need to be more informed about what’s going on around us.
  9. Students should be encouraged to enter non-science fields and end the stigma of non-science programs
  10. Focus more on adventures than academics
  11. Starbucks in school cafeterias
  12. Give the students more lessons about how to handle things in the real world and how to do practical every day tasks
  13. Purple uniforms
  14. Talk about sexuality and gender equality.
  15. Focus on internal and characteristic development. Let teens learn about psychology to better the understanding of brain

Clearly they range from the silly to the profound, and it was an entertaining moment to watch the audience share ideas then hover over their phones to tweet their feedback. Last night’s comments were very similar to the feedback in the past week at Rothesay Netherwood on Friday, St Clement’s on Monday, and UTT-Hertzliah and Lower Canada College on Wednesday. (Yes it has been a busy week of travel!)

I promised our students that every bit of feedback will be included in the final report that will be shared in July at the Leadership Institute, in October at the Heads and Chairs Conference and in April at the National Conference.

Here is the amazing thing – when we look at the research about what our schools should be doing, we see that there is great alignment between that and our students’ comments. So if I were to wax poetic, I would offer this: time to ask the advice of our students – who will be our future parents! – and get their ideas about the future into today’s strategic plans.

2051 Focus Group at UTT-Hertzliah, April 29, 2015


2051 Focus Group at Rothesay Netherwood, April 24, 2015


2 thoughts on “What they say matters. Let’s pay attention.

  1. This is great Anne-Marie! I’m definitely sharing this with LT and Middle School faculty. We have been working toward a program that is relevant, integrative, and interdisciplinary – everything the kids are asking for:-).

  2. What a great way to solicit meaningful feedback from students. Interesting to note that what they seek – authentic, experiential, relevant, individualized education – is the antithesis of what standardized testing tends to require. Thanks for sharing this, Anne-Marie.

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