Third Student Interview – Reflections

I color coded parts of the interview with some of my thoughts on the interview.

Interview:

  • “Can you tell me about your experiences in school as a student?  (Pause) Do you like school?
    • Um.. Sometimes
  • What is your favorite part of your day?
    • Probably art class.
  • Why?
    • Um, because you don’t have to think that much (laughter).
  • What is your least favorite part of your day?
    • Math
  • Do you have any favorite teachers?
    • I really like Mrs. —— this year. And I like Mr. ——-, too.
  • Are there any specific reasons why you find that some teachers are your favorite?
    • I just like their personalities, I guess. I don’t know.
  • Does the teacher ever have an affect on how much you like the course – does it matter who is teaching?
    • Um, not really, because, like, I don’t really like math, but like, I like Mr. Icholtz as a teacher, I’m just not good at it. (laughs) It’s more me.
  • Can you tell me about your first day of school this year?
    • I don’t even remember, it went by so fast.
  • Do you think that you are a different person now than from when you entered high school?
    • Yeah, I think so. I probably got more mature
  • Can you tell me about how you feel throughout your day?
    • Well, usually in like…depends on what period I’m in…like, first period is not that bad, and then like, the middle of the day, I’m just like, I don’t want to be here, like, I want to go home, and then when I go home I’m like, it wasn’t that bad.
  • When do you feel most engaged in school? Or most curious?
    • Probably working with other people, like partner stuff.
  • Are there certain places you feel more curious than others?
    • I’m not sure…I’ve never really thought about it.
  • What do you feel your responsibilities are as a student?
    • Um, I guess, like, doing homework, paying attention in class, studying, finding time to like, get stuff done outside of school.
  • Do you feel that there is a difference between being a good student and a good learner?

 

  • Do you ever feel that learning is not always the ultimate goal in your education?
    • There are some stuff that you know you’re not gonna use later in life, but, like, there’s also like, the experience of coming to school and like, going through it.
  • How valuable to your education is simply the experience of coming to school and learning how to navigate life? (often value is placed on learning curriculum and grades – what about just the experience of learning to balance grades and activities and family?)
    • I mean like all of my friends now I met through school, so like, I don’t know how else you would meet people besides going to school and seeing them everyday. It would be a lot harder to like, stay in touch with those people if I wasn’t seeing them everyday. And just like interacting with people I guess is an experience, because you don’t necessarily like everyone, everybody that you go to school with, but you have to deal with them. (laughter)
  • What do you think the goal is of your education?
    • I guess it is to find what you’re interested in, and so that you can, like, try and figure out what to do as a career.
  • Do you ever feel like you have, like, a goal or goals that are different from what you think school might expect of you? Or even society?
    • (Pause)
  • Because there are like, pressures sometimes, to like, follow a strict path.
    • Yeah, like how, pretty much in high school everyone has to do like, the same thing, like, for the most part everyone takes the same classes.
  • What keeps you excited to learn?
    • (pause)
  • Or just excited about life? Even if it is just a tiny thing?
    • Pause – It’s hard to explain, because it’s not that I don’t like learning, but sometimes the environment, I just, i’m not a fan of, but like, what other way are you gonna do it.
  • That’s interesting
    • Yeah
  • With this project we’ve been kind of thinking about that, like sometimes it feels like there are things that I might want to change, but what would I replace it with?
    • Exactly
  • That’s interesting. Thank you.
    • Yup”

(End of interview)

 

Notes, Questions, and Interesting Moments

  • It is interesting to read the transcript of this interview for multiple reasons. One prominent reason is to get the chance to analyze the questions I asked. There were some questions I think that I should have asked but didn’t, and some questions I asked out of order……I also stuttered a lot in the interview…but, I am getting better…..baby steps.

 

  • It was interesting to hear that she liked art because one does not have to think too much. Taking art classes freshman year and always having a love for art, I know that there is a tremendous amount of concentration and creativity that is required. I wonder if when she was speaking about thinking in art she was really referring to stress? Maybe art class requires a different kind of concentration than some other subjects that is more enjoyable or less stressful to her. Maybe art comes more naturally to her making it more enjoyable. Maybe one gets to think a little bit differently in art classes in a way that one is not encouraged to in other classes. Maybe the creative way of thinking in art class is so fun it is being mistaken for not being thinking at all….. Maybe it would be interesting to explore a question of how can we think as artists in other settings outside the classroom?

 

Art classes at our school

  • It was interesting to hear that the teacher did not really have any impact on how much she enjoyed the subject she was learning. I often feel that, although I always enjoy the subjects I love at heart, it always makes it tremendously better when my teacher is passionate too. There have also been some subjects in high school that I do not think I would be nearly as passionate about if it wasn’t for the unabashed passion and excitement of my teachers. I have also had the experience of feeling that I was more excited about a subject than my teacher seemed to be exhibiting. I know that I have spoken to others who feel similarly to how I do, so it is interesting to hear a slightly different perspective.

 

  • It was interesting to hear that she felt most engaged when she was working on group work. I wish I would have asked a little more about this. There are many times where I feel like I am not quite as engaged in groups. However, when I think about this, this seems to depend more on what we are doing as a group rather than group itself. The most engaging times are when I have been part of a group that did not know each other as well, but ended up creating an atmosphere in which we each were able to freely contribute our ideas, however unusual they may have seemed, and sometimes even specialize in a certain aspect of the work. Each one of us contributes just a little bit of our hearts to the project. It is not often that I am in one of these groups. How can I better create this situation than simply wait for it to happen?
  • When this type of group work does not work, whether I am with friends or not, it is not nearly as satisfying or engaging when we each are just getting our parts of the project done to get it done. This feels kind of like busy work.
  • Other times where I feel happy but not necessarily super deeply engaged in group work are when I get to work with friends on something that I enjoy. For example, recently in english class we had a substitute. While our teacher was away, she left us to read from “The Importance of Being Earnest” and questions to answer. Friends who we met last year and have grown closer to this year through drama club were in the class with us. These friends have made me happier than they might know.

lunchdramafriends

    (This is us in our lunch group in the library – not everyone is pictured!)

With them, we got to practice our acting and laugh together over Oscar Wilde’s delightful satire and epigrams.

  • It was interesting hearing that although there are things that one is learning in school that one knows one might not be applying to their daily lives later on, that there are things that are beneficial from simply going to school and interacting with people. Overtime in high school I have grown a tremendous amount as a person in terms of interacting with others, time management, and determining truly what is very important to me and what I want to be doing with my time.
  • However, I feel that I have grown more in these areas this year through these independent studies than I have in maybe all of my years of highschool combined. I do not know if some other experiences needed to happen before I was able to have such a learning experience. I think this is part of it, but I think that I would have learned a tremendous amount regardless of when we started this simply because it is a self-directed learning project. I feel that in doing these independent studies, the learning I am engaged in has not only been about the subjects that we are focusing on, but that along with the knowledge of the subjects we are focusing on, I have learned a tremendous amount about general life as well. There are some weeks where I feel that I am just being hit in the face with life lessons – like I am swimming with just my head out of the water and the fish are flying up and slapping me in the face.

screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-1-23-58-am

  • This has taught me more life lessons in a shorter period of time than simply experiencing the day to day workings of school – or maybe these things have gone in combination?

 

  • She discusses school as being a place to meet and connect with friends. This is certainly an important aspect of education. Everyday it is a highlight of my day to get to sit with our newer group of friends at lunch in the library. They are all so incredible. Sometimes I wish I had found them earlier. They are all passionate and always going after their own goals unlike any other group of people I have spent time with. They are very inspiring.
  • This adds joy and laughter and inspiration to my day. I think that this is certainly important to education and life in general simply because these things make life and learning better; they seem to make experiences more special, deeper, and more exciting.  This is why we desire human interaction with our teachers. If we ask teachers to be more human, than certainly moments with friends are important.
  • It had also been very interesting for me to watch my friends use school as a place where we practice networking with different groups of people to accomplish our goals. One incredible example of this was our friend Irina’s graduation project. (Everyone at our school is required to spend 24 hours on a personal project that is either curriculum, community, or career based before they graduate). Irina is one of the most non-stop, creative, fearless people I have met. For her graduation project, she put on a showcase of arts at our school. This included dances that she choreographed, people acting scenes from plays, people singing songs from musicals or songs that they wrote, and people performing their own poems.

(Pictures taken from Irina’s showcase)

Here is a link to Irina’s blog and specifically a post about this night: http://irinakoleva15.wixsite.com/commotion/single-post/2017/01/21/WINTER-SHOWCASE 

She is incredible.

  • It seems that theatre can be full of many people like this…. People who are unafraid to be passionate, emotionally open, unironically enthusiastic, and unafraid to ask for help to go after their goals…and/or people who do this despite fears and doubts… I think that this is because it truly takes a village to put a show together. This really became apparent to me on the day we were setting up Irina’s showcase. While we were helping to fold programs and then set up lights in the lobby around the art displays, there were people hanging lights from the catwalk above the stage and others doing a cue to cue with microphones and lights on stage. There were so many different elements to make it all happen; varying levels of people controlling lights, stage managers, people controlling sound, crew to move props, people working concessions. There was a walkie talkie placed in the room where we waited backstage once the show actually started so that the stage managers could communicate to the performers when it was time for them to come backstage when their act was up. So many little, interesting, vital parts to make the event happen. This really demonstrated how in one’s endeavors, it is not only necessary but can be very fun and less scary than one thinks to ask others for help on one’s projects. They usually turn out much better for it. This made me think about our own project and how we needed to rescale it and connect with others because it was simply too big for two people to do. Nobody does it all alone.

 

  • I think that this is true. I thought it was interesting that she did not just say that the goal was to get a good job or to get into college. The first thing she said was to find what one is interested in so that one can figure out what one wants to do as a career. This is very learner centered. This is not about doing something that may look good, but this is about following one’s passions and letting a career come out of that. This is interesting to know that despite some of the things that one might not like about one’s educational environment, such as the atmosphere, at times, the ultimate goal is to still find one’s spark and passion – not just something that is uninteresting to oneself but “looks good.”

 

  • Recently Mr. Heidt told us about Brie Daley who is the Light Lab Director at Friends Central School in Wynnewood, PA. He recently visited Friends Central and observed how they were approaching education. Friends Central just opened their light lab for learners in nursery through grade five. The light lab contains four different studios. There is one for the natural sciences, media/computing, fabrication, and there is a design studio. This seems SUPER cool. There are also philosophies for living and learning held by Friends Central School that are very different, beautiful, and exciting. We are eager to learn more about this school. 
  • There is a playfulness and a openness to exploration here that is beautiful and refreshing.  Mr. Heidt said that he wished that his own children could have gotten to experience something like this. He also noted that there is not anything that is happening at Friends Central’s light lab that is new; they are all things that people have done before, even if they have not been used much in an educational setting, such as researching, planting, and harvesting gardens, learning about and applying the design process, or learning how to use a green screen. However, all of these things seem to create an environment that fosters finding connections between everything in life and Thomas Armstrong’s 12 qualities of genius. Perhaps these are ways to begin changing the parts of education that do not seem to foster these same qualities.
  • One teacher that we were interviewing for our project expressed some apprehensiveness about our project because he said that he has seen projects like ours that do not begin with administration but begin bottom up in the system. He said that he noticed that these projects do not always seem to work out very well because they usually tend to lack a focus in or even on the big picture of the problem, which systemically is a wicked problem. He said this usually leads to a lack of good communication between everyone involved which doesn’t usually lead to a great end result and can actually make some people impacted by this change unhappy with each other. No one likes when someone comes into their space where they have found a way of doing things that they like, and for that person to tell them that things are going to change in order to make everything better. This can actually be insulting and off putting.
  • One of the parts of the mission of Friends Central is “to awaken courage and intellect in their students and to peacefully transform the world.” It seems that by doing things like growing a garden or learning about the design process in school can be ways to change the educational environment a little bit to foster qualities of genius in a peaceful way that everyone can agree on and enjoy.
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