When it comes to the success of every student, we often forget to ask the students about what they think and what would make them happier, more motivated, and more confident. This is why we wanted to include the students’ perspective in Teach For Bulgaria’s 10th annual impact report.
We asked Aylin Hadzhiyska, a 10th-grade student at 97th Secondary School “Brothers Miladinov” in Sofia to put her thoughts into words and write an article about her personal experience at school and how she thinks education is going to change over the next decade. Aylin is a student of several classes of Teach For Bulgaria participants, she has also participated in 8 consecutive Summer Academies. Many Teach For Bulgaria alumni who have worked at 97th Secondary School “Brothers Miladinov” have been her teachers throughout the years. Aylin wants to become a journalist and loves writing. Find out more about her views on education here:
I have been going to school for a decade now. As any other student, I started not knowing much about our education system or what to expect at school. I entered a world full of adventures and quite a few challenges. I believe education is one of the most important things for people my age. This is how we learn a lot about the world we live in. It is key for our future development as sensible and responsible individuals.
This is what I remind myself whenever I have trouble accomplishing any of my tasks. I ask myself “Do I really want to always depend on someone to live a normal life?” My answer is no.
Education is the key to our independence. We all feel better when we can rely only on ourselves. Students’ main responsibility is to go to school and learn. Sometimes it’s tough, but when we look back in 10 years from now we’ll be able to see that it has been because of these difficulties that we’ve grown. Because they’ve made us go out of our comfort zone. I have a little over two years left in school and I know I’m going to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. I am planning to improve as many skills as possible and to take the best of what our education system can offer.
Motivation and good teachers
I believe that it takes motivation and good teachers for us to feel more engaged in the classroom. I am very happy to have teachers who provide quality education. I can’t help but wonder, however, if my future children will have the same opportunities.
Education does not boil down to memorizing and regurgitating a lesson. In order to take full advantage of it, I believe we have to work on our soft skills by making presentations and communicating with others. And we should be asking many, many questions not just about the subject matter, but also about everything that goes on outside of school.
Student-teacher relationships are the most interesting ones in our adolescence. Of course, we’re not best buddies with our teachers, but they can teach us so many things beyond the textbook. Teachers give advice and provide support, even though they are neither friends, nor family to us. I think this is one of the hardest professions. A teacher has many students and has to empathize with all of them.
Teachers who help their students think critically and form their own opinions
I would like to see many more motivated teachers who show their students how to think critically and form their own opinions on important issues in ten years. Teachers who do not expect students to blindly agree with their views. The perfect teacher isn’t someone who gives easy As or tolerates absences, but someone who can show you that the world actually holds many secrets and is waiting for you to find them.
On the other hand, we do need intrinsic motivation. We all have dreams – to become pilots, journalists, doctors, police officers, etc. It takes a lot of work to make these dreams come true. We can start by making a plan today. Tomorrow might be too late. Some of my peers neglect their studies because they get bullied at school or they simply don’t think that education can help them make their dreams come true.
Let’s stop bullying
According to a study done by UNICEF, Bulgaria is among the top 10 countries with the highest level of bullying out of all 43 participating nations. As a student I’ve witnessed instances of bullying. Students who are targets of bullying feel bad and their self-esteem suffers immensely. This affects their personalities and determination to pursue their dreams. They start doubting themselves, tend to give up and assume that their dreams are just unrealistic and impossible to achieve. We need to make sure that in the future schools will not tolerate an environment where children have horrible experiences which crush their dreams.
The bullies themselves need to realize that they’re not just joking around, their actions have grave consequences. This is one of the things that I would like to change about Bulgarian education. Students need to realize that they have to take responsibility for their actions, regardless of how young or old they are. Teachers, students, and parents need to be in constant communication because personal experiences can have an unpredictable effect on us. This is where teachers’ active listening skills come into play. Teachers need to be able to listen to their students and give helpful advice.Според изследване на УНИЦЕФ учениците в България са сред 10-те най-засегнати от проблема „училищен тормоз“ от общо 43 изследвани страни.
The big picture
Students who do not see how school can help them make their dreams come true need to broaden their horizons. I believe any student who thinks that they won’t need to know something in the future is wrong to an extent. Subject knowledge is all around whether we realize it or not. Math, for example, is one of the hardest subjects at school, but one of the most commonly used in real life as well. I wish more students would value learning in the future.
In conclusion, I believe that education is really important to us and that it takes hard work and perseverance to achieve the school of our dreams. It is up to all of us – students, teachers, and society.