How Seattle-area students would remake their schools

MOHAI surveyed its young visitors about what they'd like to see change in their classrooms.
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I think once free education is available to anyone, at any time, amazing things will happen.

MOHAI surveyed its young visitors about what they'd like to see change in their classrooms.

Everyone agrees that schools need our support, now more than ever. But what challenges should be at the top of the civic To Do list?

That’s the question we posed to visitors, including K-12 students, to MOHAI over the last few weeks as part of the Community Idea Lab. One hundred fifty-nine young people and a few of their adult friends took the time to share their thoughts in writing. Students came from Bellevue, Federal Way, Kirkland, Seattle and SeaTac.    

Here’s what these young MOHAI visitors told us were the big challenges facing their schools now:

  • 34%  How can we make K-12 education more student-focused, personalized and community-rooted? (Sample comments on challenges they’d like to see addressed in their schools: “Smaller class sizes,” “Distance learning”  “More field trips,” “Online lessons when you are sick, summers and on weekends so you can become a better student,” “Being educated 1-on-1,”  “More freedom, creativity, curiosity,” “More focus on students and less focus on rote,” “Learning in unexpected places,” “Finding and pursuing your true passion,” “Learning from others,” “Experimentation,” “Greater use of libraries.”
  • 25%  How can we make quality education more accessible to all students, regardless of location or economic background? (Sample comments: “Mainly universal access,” “Equal access to the educational opportunities in our region, regardless of status,”  “Once free education is available to anyone anytime, amazing things will happen.”
  • 7%  How can we bring leading-edge technology into the learning process in imaginative new ways? (Sample comments:  “Tablets at school,” “All books online,” “Homework machines,” “A robot that can do my homework”)
  • 6%  How can we provide greater resources (financial and otherwise) to our educational system (Sample comments:  “Build more schools,” “We must spend more on education so the next generation feels valued,” “Higher wages for my teachers,” “Books, books, and more books.”
  • 12th Man:  “Seahawks football training in public schools.” 
  • Finally:  “More ‘no school’ days”

One thought inspired by these results: In their own way, many respondents emphasized the need for creativity in the classroom and equality of opportunity (characteristics very much a part of the Seattle DNA). And not too surprisingly, a few young people have age-old dreams: homework-reading goats (a Seattle twist on homework-eating dogs?), backpacks that do homework while the student is sleeping, and, failing that, more time to read.       

Check back tomorrow when Crosscut and MOHAI announce the community challenge for our next Community Idea Lab contest. Not only will we be covering that question over the next month, we'll be putting out an all-points bulletin for solutions to the challenge we pose. You'll have until Jan 23rd to submit yours.

Then Crosscut and MOHAI will select the top five of those ideas to be presented at the Community Idea Lab, Feb 24th at MOHAI and the audience will get to vote on the winner.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Leonard Garfield

Leonard Garfield

Leonard Garfield is the Executive Director of the Museum of History and Industry.