Monday, January 23, 2006

Why aren't we listening to kids these days

Picture by Foxtongue.
I don't know if we've ever really listened to kids, but it seems to me that these days we have the opportunity and plenty of need to listen (even without them knowing) and have what they say dramatically improve what we do as teachers.

In a recent post by Artichoke (I just can't get enough from this mysterious person) a conversation followed when I offered a link to the US research paper Digital Disconnect, talking about kid's impressions of whether school is relevant or not.

I have proposed before, that we need much more of this type of research, and Art' sent me off to have a look at an attempt at this in New Zealand. But I got a similar impression to Art':
They sounded much like a "guess what the teacher wants" interviewee response - a giving the interviewer what we think he/she wants to hear stuff. Wonder how they conducted the interviews, individual or focus groups. Have issues with the validity of focus group interviews.
But that's where the US paper is different, in that it largely rang true my experiences talking with kids... Art went on to blog her very interesting conversation with a kid who was into Warcraft, which has led Art into an ongoing exploration of edugaming, and renewed my interest in any forms of participatory action research with kids in schools.

Michael Nelson was certainly miles ahead in the thinking, when he proposed months ago now, that we might tap into the technorati tags to seek frank and open remarks from students about their impressions of school. To me, Michael's suggestion hits home in regard to the value of kids engaged in the read write web. Soon enough (if we can get access for kids to writing to the Net that is) we won't need to send out stale impersonal surveys, you can just tap into the conversation and listen - with open hearts and minds I prey.

It's well worth following Art's links from our discussion following her post. It has some rich insight from kids, and analysis of some of the educational attributes of some games.

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Jo Kay said...

Interesting Leigh... and I agree - Art is a fab read!

Re: getting in touch with what the 'kids' are up to... Have you ever browsed through the pages @ or done a Schools search on LiveJournal @

Very enlightening!! (Although I would warn all parents of teenagers not to look if they fear getting a very real insight into what their teenagers may or may not be up to! ;p)

Although these kids aren't neccessarily writing about their experiences as learners, its really interesting to see how they communicate with each other and what online tools they seem to dig or not dig. (For example....why does LiveJournal seem to be more appealing than Blogger to 15yos??)

Must stop now - this is making me feel old!!

Leigh Blackall said...

it is interesting, both what is in there and what is said/written. My observation has been that MySpaces is the more popular with 12 - 17 year olds I have had contact with. Still, I think it is a small % who write to such thngs.. yet to take off here in Australia to US standards...

Douglas Levin (Director, Education Policy/Cable in the Classroom) said...

Do want to pass on a link to a new-ish effort in the United States, interested in infusing meaningful student voice into decisionmaking:

Of note, they just published a new report summarizing not only the Digital Disconnect work we did (I am the primary author of that study), but other research in a similar vein:

Leigh Blackall said...

Thanks very much Doug! I'm very pleased you dropped this one in for me. Will be reading it through tomorrow.

Michael said...

Hey Leigh, just came across a related read:

Blog monitoring survey - maybe we could help our learning institute's PR divisions to get into it :)