Students Teaching Students: Mr. Hamilton's Peer Teaching Proposal
Katherine Ashley Chen
January 9, 2020
At school, it often feels as if teachers hold all the power. They establish the lesson plan, assign the homework, and most notably, determine our grades.
But what if students were given the opportunity to wield this power, to be the teachers? This idea, imagined by Mr. Hamilton, may soon be realized at HKIS.
The idea tackles a key issue for Mr. Hamilton: the exam week schedule at the end of the semester. Students spend early April to early May taking mock exam summatives which are immediately followed by AP exams.
By mid-May these students are worn out, and many classes, particularly APs, have completed their curriculum. Mr. Hamilton proposes that we end the academic school year here, turning the final three weeks of school over to the students.
The idea is simple. Over the course of the year, students submit class proposals to a board of selected teachers and students, and upon approval, build a three week syllabus. They would then implement these syllabi—teaching their fellow students and, potentially, teachers.
According to Mr. Hamilton, this would also suspend hierarchy. HKIS’ hierarchy is built with the administration at the top, the teachers below them, and the students at the bottom. By implementing the vision of students instructing teachers, the hierarchy would be flipped or in other words suspended. Students would be put in a position to control a classroom of teachers and administrators.
Mr. Hamilton also claimed that this system would prove beneficial to the students and to HKIS’ educational mission by increasing “student involvement and engagement” and allowing students to further extend themselves educationally.
After all, “the best way to learn something is to teach it.” Mr. Hamilton said that “as a teacher, what I would be most excited about is getting to see how students want to be taught. It would be interesting to see how they construct their lessons, and what I can take away from that as a teacher.”
Of course, there are many questions that arise when analyzing this idea - what would students be able to teach teachers? How would the grading system work? Will parents buy into this idea?
Mr. Hamilton didn’t have specific answers to every question, but believes that with careful consideration and development, the school community can come up with adequate answers.
But for now, Mr. Hamilton’s dream is just that, a dream. A drastic shift in our school’s schedule does not look to be coming any time soon, and the idea may be too unorthodox to ever stick.
All that said, the case for student-led classes is compelling, and with the planned adoption of a devoted student-teaching area next year, there are signs that HKIS may be embracing the “student as a teacher” model.
Who knows? Perhaps in the near future, you will be the teacher of your very own class.