Students Respond to E|E’s “Other Half” Paper Assertions

Web Resource • August 2008

In summer 2008, Education|Evolving asked five college students who previously attended district and chartered schools known for their innovating to review Education|Evolving’s most recent paper: “The Other Half of the Strategy: Following Up on System Reform by Innovating with School and Schooling.

In the paper, Education|Evolving co-founder Kolderie asserts:

The system reforms taking place—including institutional innovations like chartering laws and open enrollment—make improvement increasingly necessary; make change increasingly possible. But they are only half the strategy. To meet its goals this country must next undertake a serious effort to develop new forms of school and schooling. It is time to redirect K-12 policy toward innovation.

So what did these students think of the assertions in “The Other Half?” Did they see real innovations in their high schools? If their experiences were unusual, what difference did it make as they went on to college?

Note the pattern in their responses and how often motivation shows up as a factor related to their learning. In their own words they explain:

  • How an innovative atmosphere created “space,” opportunity to take a different path;
  • How they built more self-confidence;
  • How self-direction bred a “can-do” attitude;
  • How their perspectives widened even as they started with their own interests and talents;
  • How working at their own pace didn’t render them “slow,” but boosted their confidence;
  • How they learned to build supportive relationships; and
  • How knowing how to adapt to new technologies influenced their college success.
Christine Amarila
Sophomore International Studies Major at University of California San Diego

“New advances in technology, pop culture and the global community as a whole are making kids learn how to make better decisions in a quick-paced environment… The ones who know how to adapt the quickest gain an edge.”

Stacy Flores
Sophomore Secondary Education Major at Vanderbilt University

“One of the reasons I believe I not only successfully graduated but am now in a prestigious university is because of the underlying goal of each teacher at YES to constantly motivate the students.”

Mikis Kostouros
Senior Communication Studies Major at Gustavus Adolphus College
Previously attended: Clara Barton Open School, a K-8 public magnet school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Then, Minneapolis South High School’s Open Program in Minneapolis Public Schools, Minnesota.

“Teachers probably understand children better than anyone, yet in standard schools we don’t allow them enough time to get to know a student and adjust to the student’s needs.”

Jarrett Payne
Senior Marketing Major at Temple University
Previously attended: Charter High School for Architecture + Design in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“It is hard to capture the attention and interest of the youth of today, especially with what has become the standard method of teaching. Today’s students need so much more motivation to learn. Getting students involved with hands on experience in their field is very pivotal.”

Nichole Shreeve
Freshman Recreational Leadership Major at Brigham Young University Idaho
Previously attended: PACE (Personal Alternative Choices in Education) Correspondence School, Craig City School District, Alaska. Then, Tri-Valley High School in the Denali Borough School District, Alaska

“When we started the school year we knew what we had to accomplish before we could move out of that level. We as students found this type of teaching and learning style to be motivating. When students are allowed to learn at their own pace they feel empowered and find a love of learning.”