I’ve been reading Will Richardson’s book “Why School” recently and I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about how school “should be”.

Two days ago, I had a class of grade four students in my room. They were busy working away when I casually asked a student sitting near me if I could ask them a question:

If you were in charge of school, what would it be like?

I don’t think I was quite prepared for the level of excitement asking this question would cause. Though I had only quietly asked it to one student, before I knew it, the question had spread through most of the class and a crowd of students grew around me, spurting out answers more quickly than I could jot them down.

The bell rang for recess but that didn’t stop the conversation. Twenty minutes into the break, I finally sent the group of students on their way – but not before i promised that the students could return the next day if they had any more ideas. This morning, 30 seconds after the bell rang for our first recess, I had a crowd of students back again – this time, armed with notebooks full of ideas!

How often do we ask students to design their own learning? I have realized that, for me, the answer is not often enough.

I am so motivated by my students’ suggestions.

Some were fantasy:

  • I want to jump off the roof into a giant pool of cotton candy.

Some were silly-but-not-impossible (they could happen once in a while for a special event!):

  • I want to have a bouncy castle.
  • I want to pie teachers.
  • Free popcorn day.
  • Watch a movie and eat ice cream.
  • Pizza & birthday parties.
  • Have a parade with floats.

Some may seem out of the question at first, but at closer inspection could have real merit:

  • The principal should give us real money. At first I imagine dollar bills being thrown out at assemblies, but then I think – a student proposal for a good idea with a well-planned budget could cause the principal to give students “real money”.
  • We should invite celebrities to visit. We can dream big, right? Certainly, “celebrities” in the eyes of our students could mean many things. They love a great, inspirational guest speaker. Via videoconference or through twitter there are lots of opportunities to connect with experts and those our students admire.

The large bulk of ideas, though, are ones I would classify as “why not?!”. Some are things they do already, but want to have more of and others are new ideas.

  • More technology
  • Be always allowed to use our phones to research
  • More time to play soccer and football
  • Lego mechanics and robotics
  • More coding
  • Build our own arcade
  • Do more art, and especially painting
  • Learn new languages (e.g., I am learning Italian on duolingo at home, I want to do that at school too)
  • More gym
  • Gymnastics lessons
  • Obstacle courses
  • More time for playing outside
  • Be allowed to chew gum
  • Skype with other classes
  • Field trip to the zoo
  • Have a class pet
  • Nature club
  • Dance club
  • Students can go in the staff room
  • Make food with a chef
  • Have a sand box
  • Play with water outside on a nice day
  • More exercise
  • Giant studio for making movies
  • We should build a hoverboard
  • Create realistic (virtual reality) games
  • Paint on the walls
  • Paint the portables
  • Minecraft (including creating mods)
  • We should bake something special for each celebration
  • Secret Santa for the whole school
  • We should eat, drink and use the washroom whenever we want
  • We should use remote control cars, helicopters and drones
  • Make paper airplanes
  • Build our own games and apps
  • We should play Clash of Clans
  • Knitting and sewing
  • Build stuff outside like play houses and an ice rink
  • Be allowed to talk
  • Be allowed to choose where to sit
  • Cooking
  • Make websites
  • Make YouTube channels
  • Have lots of magnets
  • Learn game strategy and write gamers’ guides
  • Build robots that can do stuff (like paint)
  • Film advertisements for school events
  • Decorate the school
  • Be allowed to play games like roblox, xbox and wii
  • No homework
  • No tests – instead share what you know with a list, reflection or rating
  • Invite the news to share what we are doing
  • Have class presidents
  • Choose the rules
  • Pick where we want to go for field trips
  • Go to Wonderland
  • Pick who is in our class
  • Visit your old teachers
  • Do presentations without boys
  • Free smoothies
  • Stay in for recess when you want
  • Stay after school to help the teacher
  • Do the announcements
  • Throw a surprise party
  • Have a party for staff birthdays in the gym
  • Fun Friday
  • Fun day at the park
  • Games day
  • Do whatever you want day
  • Game night with our families
  • Minecraft night with parents
  • Thanksgiving feast
  • Thank you for being the best principal party

And some ideas stood out to me as just plain awesome.

  • We should have free time most of the time to choose what to do.
  • We should invite our families to come see what we’re doing.
  • Students should teach teachers.
  • We should have a girl mascot, too.
  • We should go on field trips to other schools to present our talents and teach other students technology.
  • We should build our own devices.
  • We should lead our own assemblies, without any teachers helping.
  • We should raise money for sick kids or for kids that don’t have what we do.
Categories: General


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