Student-led is student-first

Taking initiative builds independence

Sophia Curran-Moore

Some of my peers rely on their teachers and parents for their academic success. Park becoming more student-led leads to students’ independence.

Since I began high school, I’ve heard the administration say they want more student involvement in how the school operates, and I’m glad they’re starting to follow through with that. This year, Park started various initiatives to make school more student-involved, such as student-led conferences, Non-Traditional Academy and more student-directed discussions and walk-outs.

COVID-19 exposed the importance of student independence. Distance learning made it impossible for teachers to be physically around students to constantly remind us of due dates and to micromanage us. Distance learning was a struggle for many students, which shows that we haven’t been provided enough opportunities to take charge of our own education.

COVID-19 is one of many issues our generation will face. Not only will we have to get an education and find a job, but also handle the effects of racism, political instability and the climate crisis. If school trains us to rely on older generations, we will not have the self-discipline necessary to combat these issues.

For example, my friends and I find the college application process to be petrifying. If we had more opportunities during school to take initiative, making college choices would be easier. We would be more used to making decisions for ourselves.

Furthermore, a student-led school puts the students in control. We are the ones affected by the school, so we should have a say in how the school runs.

Putting the students in control is also more equitable. Park has a racially diverse student body, yet the staff is almost exclusively white. When students, instead of teachers or administrators, get to make some decisions, it shifts the power away from white teachers and toward the diverse student body.

In addition, students are more engaged when they have opportunities to take initiative for their own learning. When we help decide what we learn about, we are more interested, because we choose to learn about what is most relevant to our lives.

For instance, most English class discussions I’ve participated in have been about books and topics chosen by the teacher. This year, however, I got to read a book the students chose to read, and discuss topics interesting to us. I was more motivated to participate in student-led discussions rather than teacher-led ones.

Although having students lead is not favorable in every single situation, it is beneficial to students that Park is seeking more student voice.