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Who drops out? with Nick Perez, Todd Finley, Alex Pappas, Troy Hicks, Lisa Nielsen, Teresa Bunner, Lisa Nielsen TTT 285 – 2.22.12

On this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers, +Paul Allison +Monika Hardy, and +Chris Sloan welcome many different perspectives on the important question of Who drops out? Why? Does it matter? What alternatives are available?

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With a wonderful mix of thoughtful people we explore how questions about “engagement”—even what it means—help us have productive dialogues about what good teaching and learning looks like and what might change in our schools. Each of us in this conversation are working to reconsider our assumptions and to recast our questions about student engagement in high school and beyond. Please add to this mix by listening in and adding to the comments below.

Nick found our conversation and had this poignant, detailed response, which I can’t figure out how to excerpt, so here it is in full. Nick wrote to us:

I don’t think high-school is for everyone – just like college isn’t for everyone. This might not be a popular opinion, but I’d love to see more of a focus on alternative forms of education for dropouts, and less of a focus on forcing them to stay in schools where they don’t feel productive. A little background on how I formed that opinion:

I’m a high-school dropout. I wrote my first program when I was ~10 years old, and spent my time coding instead of doing schoolwork. Everyone knew that I was educating myself, but I was still treated like a troublemaker because of my grades. After being placed in a horrible, kind of humiliating special-ed program in middle school (I had someone following me around all day, making sure I was paying attention), I started skipping school because I felt alienated. I’ve never been allowed in a regular high-school classroom (I was in a small program for troubled kids, where it wasn’t unusual for a student to be out for weeks/months due to jail-time), which made me feel further alienated, and motivated me to skip class more often.

So eventually I left. I think there should be more of a focus on our unique needs, and more of an understanding of the fact that “unique needs” doesn’t necessarily equate to learning disabilities or behavioral problems – some of us prefer to work without a standardized curriculum, some of us prefer to work alone, some prefer to work in groups, some want complete guidance, and some just want independent study with extra help on-call.. and yeah, some are stubborn enough to reject any form of education that doesn’t meet their needs/desires/expectations, like myself.

I don’t regret a thing. I love self-educating, because I love freedom and self-accountability. If I fail to learn the things I need to learn, it’s an issue that I deal with on my own, instead of facing disciplinary action, or getting an “F”, or being placed in a box of “bad kids”. I have a job. I pay taxes. I’ve never had issues paying my rent. I’m still self-educating at every opportunity and always will be. Life goes on. I’d love to help other dropouts feel like they haven’t missed their chance.


Go to EdTechTalk to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.