Listen to Teens Discuss What Mattered Most to Them in High School Classes

Find the full episode at Far too often, young people in U.S. high schools…

By Beth Fertig

Find the full episode at

Far too often, young people in U.S. high schools are expected to learn the same thing at the same time in their classes. Teachers present a lesson and lead the discussion, and each student then completes the same assignment. But this can lead to disengagement for students. 

What would it look like if classes felt more engaging, meaningful, relevant, and authentic for students? This episode of This Teenage Life, sponsored by XQ, talks to teens about how and what they wish they learned in school, and when they feel most excited about learning. 

Students discuss how interest in topics inspires them to go deeper, how meaningful, hands-on experiences are the moments they remember, and how they wish they could experience this more often in school.

One young person describes the importance of storytelling and how interviewing her grandparents about Jim Crow and doing her own research was much more interesting than reading a textbook. Another describes the emotional relevance of applied, hands-on learning. And a former teacher with decades of experience explains how he transformed his teaching practice to focus more on youth culture and interests. He now does project-based work with teachers and students full-time with his nonprofit, Blue Dot Education.

At XQ, giving students more voice and choice in their education is one of our key design principles, along with community partnerships and caring, trusting relationships. The ultimate goal is to develop what we call XQ Learners: students who are deeply engaged in their own learning and fully prepared for all that the future has to offer, in college, careers and beyond. We hope everyone will listen to what these teenagers have to say and ask the young people in their schools and communities to reflect on similar questions.