What Do Students Need?

In my work with students from many different cultures, I’ve discovered that educational values (ideas about what’s important) vary (change) a lot from one culture to another. Even in the U.S. today, there are ongoing (continuing) debates about educational values and what students need to learn.

With that in mind (thinking about that), I was attracted to a recent article on the eSchool News website. They asked their readers this question: “If you could choose only one, what’s the skill (ability to do something well) you’d like every student to learn? The eSchool News readers represent (come from) all levels of American education.

Not surprisingly, reading was the most popular response (answer). It appeared twice as often (two times more) than all the other responses. Here are some of the other skills that ranked high (had a high position) in the survey (set of questions) and brief summaries of what the eSchool News readers said about them:

Write – Students need the ability to think clearly about what they write, to choose the best ideas, and to organize them so they make sense (are understandable) to their readers.

Communicate effectively and with respect – Effective oral (spoken) communication begins when we try to understand the people we speak to. And it depends on our ability to clearly, concisely (without unnecessary words), and respectfully explain our thoughts and ideas.

Question – Asking good questions and finding and evaluating (judging how good or useful something is) possible answers allow students to take control of (be responsible for) their own learning and discover ideas that they might otherwise miss.

Be resourceful – To be resourceful means to be good at finding ways to solve problems. If students know how to find and verify (discover if something is true) information and ideas, they can learn more and they can learn more effectively (in a way that produces the result we want). One eSchool News reader wrote that “knowing how to find the right information is more important than memorizing information that very likely (probably) changes rapidly.”

Be accountable – Someone who is accountable is responsible for the results of what they do. An accountable student says, “I’m responsible for what I learn,” and chooses to be a learner, often for life.

Know how to learn – “The most important skill,” one reader writes. Students need to learn how to learn on their own (by themselves) because they will need to know things during their lifetime that we can’t even imagine (think of) right now. If they learn how to learn, they will always be able to teach themselves. They should not have to depend on teachers and schools.

Think critically – One reader calls this thinking “like a scientist” – using evidence and careful, logical (where facts and ideas are connected in a correct way) thinking to analyze information and ideas.

Be happy – Several eSchool News readers stressed (emphasized) the importance of being a happy, caring person. And one of them suggested that character development – learning courage, honesty, loyalty, and other valuable qualities – at home and in school is the key to happy students.

What do you think about these ideas? How many of these skills are emphasized where you live? Would you add others? Would you eliminate (take away) any of these?

~ Warren Ediger – creator of Successful English, where you will find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

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15 Responses to What Do Students Need?

  1. elcomandant says:

    There are two skills in the list that I would eliminate, no because they aren’t important but because they are out of their place. Besides, these skills, in my opinion, aren’t learnt from the school exactly, but they are taught by our own parents at home. I’m referring to “Be accountable” and “Be happy”. I’m going to explain myself.

    I think this two skills must form part of a skill that we could call “How one must be”. Then here we can put a lot of skills like these two I mentioned before,, plus much more like “not to be flaky”, “be sociable”, “not to be a thief”, “be faithful”, “be sincere” and so on. We can find a lot of skills that we learn from our parents without being aware.

    If I had to add one, I would say “Capacity of Summarizing”. It is very important and it’s not easy.


  2. Peter says:

    Warren ,
    I skimmed the post.
    What I gathered is ,we as students must be succinct,to the point ,focused ,on top of that we must be critical thinkers.by that I mean don’t blame nobody but ourselves for our shortcomings
    Good pointers Warren
    I will follow your lead bro

  3. Peter says:

    The values you counted out here my friend are global rule of thumb.
    I mean ,all the qualities you pointed out are given.
    As far as my memory serves me,we followed a variation of what you mentioned in the place of my origin,with some small differences.
    As far as my menory serves me,Back there parents and teachers were more of a disciplinarian than lenient.
    There was all stick and no carrot.

  4. Ethan says:

    I think it really depends on what sort of situation we assume but if I have to choose among those skills, the reasonable choice is definitely reading.
    Reading should always come first. Without reading how could we write, speak, ask questions? There’s gotta be some input first, right?
    Reading taking the top position is no wonder.

    Anyhow it’s interesting that they regarded being happy as a skill which could be learned at school. The importance of being happy can’t be too stressed, of course. But it’s not something you can learn at school with some textbook. Even if you go to college and get Ph.D of Philosophy you cannot actually master it. Well, I have no idea how one can know how to be happy though I personally think it’s not possible. OK.. I feel this is becoming ridiculous.


  5. Myo ko ko says:

    Hi, Warren,
    I stress that this eslpod website is very resourceful to me in the realm of English learning. Trust me. 🙂 I cross my heart and hope to die!! 😀

  6. emiliano says:

    Being happy?

    I would like to learn how to be happy but I think this is a very difficult task that millions of people
    should be needed to know.

    The skill of a good reading?

    Yes, that is a fundamental tool that helps every one to have a good information, access to learn
    all kind of sciences and what is even more trascendental a good reader has more facilities to
    learn on their own, also to be critical, resourceful and more happy in general.

    Yes I think so,
    it helps to be more happy as being a good reader give us a fountain of information, pleasure and
    entertainment that never ends.
    That would be as easy as having a good book at hand we could live another life, have all kind of information
    about different subjects and always hours of happy lectures ahead.

    Being students my daughters told me that lot of problems about mathematics or sciences
    problems come from the difficulties of some students to read and understand what
    they were reading.

    Thank you dear Warren, as always I think it is a good subject to talk about.
    Being so good teacher Dr. Ediger it is sure you know a lot about this item.
    All my best.


  7. Hilario says:

    Master skill.- I quite agree, as it couldn´t be otherwise, with the statistical response summary to this interesting survey. In my opinion a good reading skill summarises the rest of the learning skills. When you are thoroughly reading you´re listening to the writer of the script and to your own conciousness as well at the same time, thus making forward up possible the understanding process and, by thinking of responding alternate arguments, you´re also mentally writting with a critical filter of thinking. So I consider reading a real feedback and bidirectional process of thinking.

  8. Peter says:

    Warren my man,
    I hate to break it to you.
    But,being resourcful does not always lead us to success. I was very resourceful in terms of culling English materials and info. But ,it didn’t get me anywhere. I was turned around untill Eslpod set my mind steright and showed me the path.
    My only suplier of English is Eslpod,the only reliable source ever.
    I personaly think,for my money,All the English text books out there are scams,a way of cashing English lovers out.
    I had been reaped off by them for years before my initiation to Eslpod.
    The thing is,the text books saw me coming:)))
    You know what,the meaning of the terms themselves are not a big of a help but the concepts.
    And,Jeff has a jenious for explaining the concept and distinguishing the differences between similar words in both connotation and definition.
    My only resources are Warren,Lucy ,and Jeff
    And I found myself more resourceful that ever
    (No brown nosing intended)
    And it is as resursful as sb can get.

  9. Peter says:

    Hericane bears down USA,in North Calirana .People of the area boarded all up their houses.
    The Hericane is approaching and comes landing late tonight or tomorrow early in the morning.
    Let’s Cross our fingers ,so the people who decide to say down there and though the storm out(overcome the diffucult ,harsh situation) ride it out(to manage succefuly to pass the bad situation with no inflicted damage,pass the storm safely)

  10. Johnny says:

    Thank you Warren Ediger bring us a educational and enlightening topic.

    I’m fond of it very much, because it calls me up to much ideas of what kind of skills I need to master.
    For me, I think the most critical competence will be “reading, know how to learn,as well as communicate effectively”
    for my English learning and life as a testimony to show why they are significant and to be top-priority.
    Before I got to know and come over to ESLPOD, there is no way I can find a solution of saving my English,
    and now everything tormenting and miserable has gone , my English was survived through hanging in the notions of eslpod telling me
    in their English cafés that we are able to successful after reading and listening some articles comprehensible more.

    In china, there’s an idiom to show the importance of knowing how to learn, which means that we can cut corner or take shortcut even saving time
    too much times more than that of normal way if we find a underlying or essential way of solving problems, so it would be handy in helping students acquire knowledge more
    as well as tackle something difficult.

    Speaking of effective communication,I’m not quite sure, but I know it’s a core skill to be focused and considerable when it comes to an hunting for jobs.

    thank you again, my teacher.

  11. Johnny says:

    For me, the most crucial and vital skill is never give up in setting some of goals to our lifetime and future,
    and then continue keep on endeavoring for them.
    Technically, it cannot be classified as a skill but supposed to be a spiritual strength.
    whatever, I find personally it is a mind force with verve and enthusiasm and vigor
    where I have harvested a lot precious treasure that help to me to be as steadfast as a
    military soldier to conquer any of difficulties and obstacles on the road of ahead.

    with this strength, every single one of our students are able to get what they want as well as adults.
    however, it’s not easy and will take a long time to cultivate this kind of spirit.

  12. Dan says:

    Hello to everybody,

    I have been thinking about that question from yesterday, and i cannot find an answer, I really do not know.

    Dear Emiliano, I have discovered a way to be happy, I do not know though if it works for everyone.
    With myself has worked out and I can say that I am happy.
    I have achieved that through Maditation. Try it, I really recommend to you and to everyone else.
    Unfortunately most pepole think, you know, that maditation is something religious or for just Buddist and so on.
    I did not know that something as simple as sitting on a chair with you back straight looking at your breath and observing your thoughts
    without judging could have such an impact in my life. I have discovered something that for me it’s worth more than the public debt of U.S.A.

    Bye, from an happy one 😉

  13. Henry says:

    The theme you put forward is a enlightening one.

    When it comes to skills which we students should learn?I agree with major readers’ opinion which is that reading is the most important skill for us.If you want to grow up mentally,you must absorb all kinds of knowledge from different sources. Human develops our civilization mainly through indirect experience which we can obtain from reading.Reading helps us to collect different ideas which wary a lot from one culture to another and if you understand and generalize them well you can then generate your own ideas.At last,you are supposed to put your ideas into practice and you will gain more.Reading is foundation of the entire process and obvious the most valuable skill you should acquire.

    For my money,the importance of knowing how to learn tells its own tale too.It’s crucial that whether you have self taught competence.You can’t rely on your parents or teachers forever during your lifetime.Even if you are weak originally?you can make ongoing progress and become powerful in case that you master the ability of learning.

    All the best.

  14. emiliano says:

    Thank you Dan, yes I think Meditation could be absolutely good and could make a nice help in our

    Years ago I try to meditate, but I failed being constant and did not do meditation all days.
    It has been my fault, of course but I know it could be really good and helpful.

    There are moments that I try to do it again, making a pause in life, deep breathings
    emptying the mind of everything and be relaxed.
    At least I got the good help of breathing slowly and deep, this is always a good custom
    when we are going through bad moments of stress or nerves.

    Dan I have to confess that even knowing it is really good I have not the will of doing it daily but I have to think about
    Meditation as a daily life rule.

    Thank you very much Dan, it is really nice to have these kind of advises.


  15. Ziba says:

    Hi Warren,

    The items you mentioned are important to learn but I think some of them are more useful and practical to learn especially English.
    I believe reading, writing, asking good question and learning how to learn are more important than others.

    Here in schools teachers emphasize on reading, writing and memorizing.

    To add an idea: One item that I think is very important to learn better is “reciting” I tried it and it worked. When you recite for example a poem it sticks in your mind and you can’t forget it easily.
    Associating something to something else is good to learn, and memorizing.
    Reviewing is another that helps us learn better, too.

    But I can’t eliminate any of them, maybe they are useful for others.

    Thank you Warren,
    Good and timely topic for us,


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