Student Voice and Choice Photo Credit: SezzRS via Compfight cc What do you do when students choose to fail? Share this:TweetEmail Related
Great question – one I hope leads to great discussion. To me, two thoughts come to mind: (1) What a truly sad state of affairs when any student chooses to fail – and many truly do, even if they don’t admit such, even to themselves. As an educator, my facilitation in such cases is dedicated to mentoring and counseling – hopefully understanding the issues and providing “Rolodex” entries to fill cards never done previously. The learner must decide that learning is important and will provide opportunities otherwise closed off. A proponent of active, student-controlled, team-based PBL approach, IF I can help the student decide to engage, I believe they can ramp up gradually, will have success, and will learn effectively.
Then, too: (2) unfortunately, learners many times “choose” to fail (again, usually without even suspecting it’s happening) because of the positions they find them in as a result of decisions they did or didn’t make. For example, every student MUST find a good advisor – at all education levels; my most frequent advice to students and their families: find an advisor that helps you have a better experience – most important card on your Rolodex!!! Another example: regardless of your career interests, you must be an effective learner and you must be an effective problem solver; if you are not in courses assisting such development, seek them out AND if they don’t exist, find mentors (advisor, maybe) that will help your self-development of them. A final example (of many more that come to mind): do NOT automatically accept the instructor’s learning objectives as YOURS; with input from your advisor and Rolodex entries, understand what the required courses mean to you and select electives that address your needs and interests every time. Have a vision for your future and work toward it CONSCIOUSLY!
For so long I’ve been in the “failure isn’t an option” camp. I always wonder if a student is choosing to fail, then I just haven’t done enough to motivate him. I haven’t given him enough voice or enough choice in the learning process, but maybe that isn’t it. Maybe his voice and his choice is to say, “No, I’m not going to learn this.” Is that okay? Honestly, I don’t know. It would seem the whole teacher-student relationship has failed, but if I give him ownership of the learning and I’ve done all I can to make it student-centered then maybe the only thing left to do is to say, “You have a choice and I’ll honor it no matter what you choose.” I’m not sure, Mike, but I know you definitely have me thinking.
Love the visual, too. As I think about the image, I’m considering the following:
Who’s holding the pills? The student or the teacher?
How does that answer change the interpretation of the image?
What does the metaphor imply about education?
Good stuff, my friend.