She is 17

I can promise you, the title of this post is nothing more than a statement. No hidden meaning. In fact, it is exactly what “she” says in the beginning of her Ted Talk. She is Kate Simonds. She is, well as I stated, 17 years old from Timberline High School. As is expected from anyone giving a Ted Talk, you would imagine that at 17 she was some sort of child prodigy. She must have achieved something great, discovered something new, or defeated some unpronounceable disease. To my surprise, she did none of these things.

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Photo CC- By Michael Fisher

The title of her talk was “I’m 17”. Over the course of thirteen minutes she explained in depth what it was like to be a 17 year old on the receiving end of the adult criticism that exits when you are simply “too young” to understand. She challenges the ideal that for many conversations we must be older. Or the idea that adults simply know more from living longer. Although this may reign true in some circumstances, the idea that we are often shut off from creativity simply because we are younger, is absurd.

All in all, you will have to watch the talk in order to get the full idea of what Miss Simonds is saying. However, as I watched I began to apply her thoughts and ideas to my classroom. How powerful it would be if we returned student voice to our students. Instead of telling them their thoughts are invalid, we would begin encouraging them to share their thoughts. What a shame for us to actually learn from the students! I believe that just as Miss Simonds states, our students would begin to take interest in their learning, and actually care about their education again. The most powerful point Miss Simonds made was this, “I’m 17. I haven’t won a Nobel Peace Prize, I haven’t solved inequality, I haven’t solved poverty, I haven’t done any of the cool things that I’ve mentioned earlier. But the difference is, I know that I can. Teens, you need to believe in your voices, and adults, you need to listen.”

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4 thoughts on “She is 17

  1. I think it’s so important that we take time to stop and validate the feelings our students are student are having. Especially at an age like 17 when teenagers feel so much uncertainty. I have the mindset that my students have as much to teach me as I have to teach them! I wish more adults outside of the educational world realized this.

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  2. I remember sitting in class in high school, and in one class I would never dare to state my opinion because I just felt like the teacher would call me stupid or naïve. However, in another class, I was more than willing to share my own thoughts because I was confident that the teacher would find a way to understand what I was trying to say and use it to propel a discussion. It’s not often that we see teachers that encourage each student to speak their own mind about a subject and how they are trying to understand the material, instead we see a super quiet classroom with students staring blankly at a text book that “doesn’t speak their language”. Conversation in a classroom is one of the greatest ways to spark interest and understanding.

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