2013-05-28 13:30:00

'We Want Teachers Who Engage' -- Silicon Valley Students Respond to Jeff Bliss Video


Editor's Note: The cell phone video of a Texas high school student speaking out about what's wrong with packet education has become a viral sensation -- garnering millions of hits and launching online debates around the status of public education. Students at various high schools in California's Silicon Valley share their thoughts on the video in the context of their own educational experiences, and what they think could be done to better engage students. 

Earlier this month, Duncanville High School student Jeff Bliss became a YouTube sensation as his rant against a common form of classroom education went viral. In the cell phone video, Bliss tells his teacher, "If you would just get up and teach them instead of handing them a freaking packet, yo." Bliss's spontaneous monologue struck a chord with students across the country, who Facebook liked, shared, and tweeted the video to more than 3 million views in a week. In a moment of raw frustration, Bliss shared what students, teachers, and educational experts all say is needed if we are to create classroom settings of true learning and intellectual development -- engagement. During a subsequent interview with a local network WFAA-TV, Bliss said, "I want to see a teacher stand up and interact with the students, get involved, discuss, talk, question and dig deep into the subject.”

Learning is a Two-Way Street

Courtney Coufman, 17

Just this last week a new topic has been set ablaze as a passionate student's standing up against a disagreeable teacher goes viral. Many have joined in to bash previous instructors they had. The world is turning its head to check out what some consider to be America's failing education system. While I do empathize with those who believe we need more engaging teachers, for I have had my fair share of "packet-learning" classes, I also believe there is another side to this equation. Students.

My current third period economics is a stellar example. Imagine kids yacking away with their friends, others perusing their phones, one boy shouting about his boredom, three girls standing up singing Taylor Swift songs, a continuous opening and slamming of the door as kids escape by going to the bathroom, and a single teacher elevating her voice to continue the lesson. "Shut up!" she shouts, but a phrase that once managed to hush the class now goes unnoticed.

This is a casual day for this period, and as my teacher whines about our lack of respect for the 100th time, a boy bluntly states, "This class is a joke." I believe this is what the student realized in the video, that the school system has become more of a babysitting jail than an encouraging place to learn. Yet you can't only point a finger at the teachers, for many of my peers also behave in a way that inhibits learning. Even just one disruptive loud mouth can deteriorate the learning flow, and in a room full of second semester seniors, the disruptiveness only grows.

As we re-assess the teaching of our country, I also hope we take a good long look at those who are "learning." For no matter how professional a teacher is, it means nothing if they speak to a brick wall.

He Said What Many Students Feel Every Day

Amanda Zapien, 17

As a senior in high school, I feel like I can relate to this upset student and how frustrated he is. A lot of teachers nowadays seem like they don't really care about the students actually learning anything. Some teachers give off a vibe that they just need to give kids busy work so they can get paid. I'm not saying that all teachers are the same in this way, but there are many. Everyone learns differently and I'm sure that there are students who just don't care how the class is being taught. But then there are students that are on a whole other level and have high expectations for the teachers. I'm happy that this young man spoke his mind and told it like it is. It's just something a lot of us think every day, but never speak up about. Just because a teacher has their "credentials" doesn't mean they are going to be successful in that work.

It would be better if teachers had an open class for administrators and other superiors to sit in and watch. Teachers are taking advantage of their position when they just give out packets and getting off easy with just giving students busy work every day.

Schools Failed, and Fixing Them is a Group Thing

Victor Pardo, 17

Education seems to be nothing of value for a lot of young people I know. That's why when adults ask youth what they would want to be when they are older, they will be clueless. It used to be that a child would go to school, learn, pass all classes with good grades, graduate then move on to college. A simple mission. Now, becuase we feel teachers don't care, we just go to have fun. For example, I personally would wake up go to school just to go see my friends and then we would ditch and go out to eat. And when we go out to eat, it's young people just a couple years out of high school who are serving the fast food. They aren't going to college. The education system has failed.

Kids that are in school show up and don’t do work. They don’t pass their classes and always get in trouble. Who is there to blame for such actions? The students? The teachers? The parents? Truth is all three. A student needs to go to school and actually make themselves want to learn. That's step one. Second, the teacher needs to get the student involved and want to learn. Lastly, parents should be checking up on their kids to see how school is going for them and ways they can help out. This is a group thing. No child can raise himself or herself and be on the right path. We as students need help.

Teachers Got Taught a Lesson in This Video

Kaylani Stewart, 13

After watching the YouTube video of the student getting mad at his teacher, I feel that this student was brave enough to stand up in front of his class and tell the teacher what she needs to hear. Yes, he could have told the teacher individually, but he told himself in the moment, "It's time to show this teacher what I feel and probably what other students feel too." I agree with this guy. Not only do I think what he did was right but I think what he did was fair.

I too want to sometimes tell my teacher what's going on, like what they are doing wrong. It's just that I can't really put what I need to say in words. I wouldn't exactly approach my teacher how he did, but I can relate to him. Because a teacher will let you ask questions, but only about the subject. Teachers don't really want to hear you bicker about why they teach like that or why they just give us packets. I feel that video is a simple lesson for teachers to pay attention to how they are teaching us. And hopefully they will react and try to change.

Duncanville Was a Wake Up Call

Kymeira Stewart, 15

After watching the video, I agree with what the student at Duncanville said. Especially when he said that students should be taught on their strengths and not in simple worksheets and packets. I later found out that he had no regrets to what he had said. I'm actually glad that he said what he said because it's really like a wake-up call to all teachers. Also he dropped out of Duncanville High a year earlier which obviously makes it seem like either the teacher or the student is doing something wrong. Both are needed if students like him, and us, are going to be able to get an education.

Students Speak Out All the Time, Hope He's Heard This Time

Semaj Hawthorn, 13

I've seen a lot of people speak out like that, but nothing happens. I was happy that somebody got it on video. I hope that teachers around the world see this video and learn from this student. I think it's about time somebody says something that's actually right and smart, not something ignorant. Some people will speak out but will do so ignorantly, and will cuss out their teacher, which automatically puts them in the wrong and in the position to get in trouble. The kid was talking about how his teacher doesn't teach, she just gives them packets. I go to an independent studies school and they just give me packets. I wrote an article about it called,"Packet Schools." I wasn't learning and it was hard for me to understand the work, but I wasn't comfortable talking to my teacher about it because he didn't seem to care about me. I hope this story goes far and teachers change after watching this video and not just give packets without teaching.

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