Feedback from the children is important so that educators and other stakeholders know whether the educational program is effective, and whether the school is living up to its mission and vision.
A student’s feedback would help in the following areas:
The school: Education and learning cannot happen in isolation. They have to happen in an atmosphere that is academic, happy and enabling. If children feel that there is too much academic rigor without appreciation, or that there is too much stress on serious learning without anything to offset it, then, it is time to take a look at what is happening in the school.
If the educators have made no effort to build a relationship with the children, then all criticism and discipline will seem harsh and negative. If the feedback talks of a situation where children feel that they can do anything they wish, it means that there is no adult presence or involvement to guide and help them.
Safety is another issue. Do children feel safe in school? Is there some area or are there some people among the staff, educators as well as ancillary who they are afraid of? Feedback on the libraries, laboratories, and other resources for self-development, or development of their talents, are extremely important. Questions can be raised about facilities for physical training and development. Are there opportunities for them to go trekking, rafting, or mountaineering? Atmosphere involves the cultivation of respect in the child for others and for all things in the school.
From their feedback the school authorities can learn if children are behaving in an ethical, moral and socially responsible manner.
The educator: Contradictory as it may seem, children know exactly what it is they want in their educators. They want their educators to be more knowledgeable than them no matter what the topic under discussion. They want their educators to be smartly turned out, expert in the subject they teach, fair and just in the manner they deal with discipline issues, and above all kind especially to those who have fallen short of expected standards academically and in their behavior.
From their feedback, questions that educators are confronted with are:
- Whether they understand their role in the child’s life?
- Are they prepared to take on the daunting responsibility of understanding each child, finding out his strong and weak points, and finding out what he is capable of?
- Are they willingly taking on the challenge of preparing the child to take his place in a multicultural world?
- Are they building up the child’s sense of self-esteem and self-worth?
- Are they getting into the child’s mind and sorting out the confusions lurking there in its depths?
- Are they planning activities which help build up and enhance the child’s self-confidence?
- Are they teaching the child to handle stress or be in difficult situations without losing their self-confidence or self-esteem, or self-respect?
- Are they bringing the world into the classroom?
- Are they being role models for the children they are responsible for?
The educational program: Looking at children’s varying abilities, their feedback could raise issues ranging from the effectiveness of an oral evaluation, to acquiring written skills, to dealing with world issues, to grasping concepts of globalism, interdependence and interconnectedness. Children feel deprived if they are not part of decision making processes, especially in areas that are relevant to them. So, does the educational program have provisions for this?
The curriculum: This is where children have the most difficulty. They need to be convinced of the relevance of what is being taught to them. While some of them are very clear about why they are in school, there are some who are not. Whereas some children enjoy the experience of learning and academic rigor, there are some who cannot participate enthusiastically in a program they feel they can neither cope with nor which captures their imagination or interest. At the same time there are certain educational goals that have to be achieved. Students’ feedback clearly shows the hiatus between what needs to be done and what is actually being done.
The system: A school does not function alone. Children are coming to school from their homes and going back to their homes. Consequently, parents, as well as the local community have to feel responsible for the child’s growth and development. Children’s feedback gives a clear idea of the lacuna existing here. Students very often compare what is happening in their schools. Questions are then raised: if they have it, why can’t we? Or, if they are doing it why can’t we? If the school cannot have all the facilities it wants, it can connect with local groups so that their children are not deprived of any feature that is necessary for them.