Sunday, May 12, 2013

Was #JeffBliss disrespectful for using his #StuVoice to demand a beyond-the-packet education?

By now, you've probably seen the video of high school student Jeff Bliss demanding an end to what he calls "packet teaching." Instead he puts out a call to action for teachers to work to touch the hearts of kids to open their minds. The interaction was ignited when his teacher told him to stop his bitching about the test and kicked him out of class. A student flipped open the cell phone, caught his reaction on tape, and published it. It hit a chord with many and went viral, being viewed by millions around the globe.

As Jeff shared his frustration, his teacher saw no value in his wisdom and told him that he was wasting her time. When he responds, she apathetically silences him, tells him again to leave and informs him he is not welcome back.

What surprised me more than this teacher's dismissal of a young man so passionate about the education of himself and others, was that there were so many people who thought Jeff Bliss was the one being disrespectful.

Wait! What????

As I recently expressed during a weekly Student Voice chat on Twitter, here's my thinking about how we should view students.
And this resonates with students.
When a teacher tells a young man frustrated about being robbed of his education that he should stop bitching and stop wasting her time, how on earth can we be focused on the student being the one that is showing disrespect?

Our school system is here to support children in learning. Most of us are aware that very few students learn well with "packet teaching," yet it remains.

Criticism of Jeff Bliss in social media and the mainstream press indicate he could have gone about this a different way.

They say he should have addressed her privately.
  • This makes NO sense. It was the teacher who called him out and kicked him out publicly in front of the class.
They say he should have gone to the principal or school board.
  • I'm sure he will, but at the time, he was responding to the woman who told him to stop bitching and kicked him out of class for voicing his frustration.
They say he should know the politics of education and know this is the fault of those beyond the teacher.
  • It is not the job of students to know the politics of education. It is their right to learn and to observe their freedom of speech when this right is being withheld. 
They say he robbed his classmates of an education by disrupting the class.
  • No. No. No. Students speaking to their teachers about how they learn best is not robbing anyone of an education. It is an opportunity for everyone to put down the packet, talk, think, and discuss how they can best learn. Students can fill in bubbles anytime, anywhere. A class is a place for interaction and discussion.
They say he shouldn't have addressed the teacher because she was just doing what she was told.
  • We should not silence students who are telling their teachers they can't learn they way they teach. Students should be able to speak with their teachers and teachers should listen. When they do they will find there is something valuable they can learn.
I commend Jeff Bliss for standing up for himself and all the other students who deserve a beyond-the-packet education.

Our children are not our future. They are the voices we need TODAY. Our job is to listen and support them. When they say they can't learn the way we are teaching (or not teaching in this case) we must hear them and do what we can to ensure they receive the education they deserve. When we do that we will have citizens who are not just good at sitting down and filling in packets but standing up and filling our world with those who are empowered with embrace their right to change the world.

You can like Jeff Bliss's Facebook Page here and follow him on Twitter here.

Oh, wait. Before you go, check out this great remix of Jeff Bliss's inspirational words.