Student Voice: Abram

April 12th 2016, Written by Nathan Robertson and Abram


When talking to skeptics of personalized learning, a common argument I hear is, "Well, the students don't care. Why put in the effort when they won't put in the effort?"

For those who hold to that argument, Abram disagrees with you.

We are constantly getting feedback from students after working with them. They feel empowered to make changes in their schools and to advocate for themselves. Abram decided to put his thoughts about his Indigo Report and education down on pen and paper. It's a powerful example of what students can do when you give them an opportunity to speak. Student voice, student choice.

I'll let Abram take it from here.


Hello my name is Abram and I am a sophomore at New Technology High School;. My definition of being successful in life varies from the social norm of simply getting rich and owning a lot of things, my definition of being successful is being happy and feeling fulfilled with you life. The Merriam-Webster secondary definition of success is the attainment of wealth and favor this definition is entirely subjective. Now what is my interpretation of this? My interpretation is that we value materials over personal relationships.  In a paper by Bill Mckibben he concludes that as our houses get bigger, our personal relationships become fewer. This is disturbing to me, how can we be so lonely but still want more? My question for the world is what's the point of all of your hard work if you just want to spend it all on yourself. In The United States alone 53,000,000 million people face hunger, a large portion of this number being children.

I’m lucky to go to a new tech school because I can express myself more than kids at others. This is a hard fact to come to terms with since I don’t think I express myself and show my full potential. However I find it harder and harder to be truly happy and fulfilled with what I do as a student, as the “challenges” we are presented do not work our minds but simply require a google search or a calculator. Guidelines are getting stricter, lessening my ability to express myself through school. In one instance my teachers did this really neat simulation of what a school in the industrial revolution would be like, they referred to us by numbers and wore old timey clothing, and it was really interesting for me, but my classmate sitting next to me became angry as the figures of authority became stronger. This was an eye opener for me because it showed how it wasn't just the older generation that prefered standard types of learning and routine. 

What I would like to see in education is small groups of equally talented individuals given a real world problem to solve by a teacher and solving it. My school has given us a few of these real world projects and in my school's environmental studies class that I TA for they are doing exactly this, they planted oak trees at Skyline Park and helped with taking out invasive species of plants at the Oxbow flood overflow.  To add to the first part of that, I find that my teachers seem to disperse the more motivated students among the less motivated to take the brunt of the work from them. This is unfair to the more motivated, as it hinders them with what should be others responsibility. My favorite project I worked on was during my Freshman year. The project was to present a solution to a real world problem to our class. This was really interesting because we had to learn from others solutions and research, instead of just teaching about something that was already known about. For the final we presented a model of an easily constructible home for refugees. 

As you can see from my report I am not motivated by traditions. I do respect them but I disagree with many that have lost their relevance. For example the division of labour between men and women was useful when we were dropping like flies to disease and conflict, but in our modern world basic survival is not a thing that we need to worry so much about. The discrimination of women in the working world is unacceptable. One of my least favorite phrases is “It’s always been done this way” this saying drags us as a society down because it provides no other reason than it was relevant to people before me. Times change rapidly and relevant information of the past becomes quickly irrelevant. In my opinion this is not a basis to make a decision. I do realize how helpful it is to base our decisions off of prior knowledge but their is a difference in relevant and irrelevant prior knowledge.

Thank you for listening.

-Abram