It is a quick and efficient way to refer to a group of people, and how I usually addressed my cabin full of campers when it was time to get out of the pool. (As in, “Y’all get out now, we have to go!”) Travel most places in the South and you will hear it regularly woven into the vernacular.
It is also, come to think of it, regularly woven into how we group students in our schools.
- Y’all can come to school if you are 5 years old by September 1.
- “Y’all are almost done with the 2nd grade. After the summer, y’all be 3rd graders.”
Notice there is no you. No individual recognition of a unique learner who learns at a different rate from others. No recognition of the unique gifts that they each possess or a unique learning style. Just “y’all.”
Schools are starting to recognize that we need to shed the industrial, lock-step approach of our historical past and create a system that revolves around our learners instead of the other way around.
And if we are really honest with ourselves, we are a little scared that our learners are starting to realize this, as technology has unlocked many additional ways to learn at your own pace and when school is not in session.
David Price says it best in his book “Open.” Price writes, “The pace of societal change is outstripping the slow evolution of learning, so we may need some new ideas in formal learning if we’re to avoid irrelevance.”
Look at all that is changing and has changed over the last 10 years. I, for one, refuse to let irrelevance happen on my watch!
It’s time to stop thinking of our learners as y’all and time to start thinking of them as you. Anything less is a disservice to their unique learning styles and needs; and we must be better than that to meet their needs now, and in the future.
I believe we are up to the challenge. We are fixin’ to change the system and would welcome others along for the ride.
(And yes! Fixin’ is pure “Southern Speak” meaning: To get set or be on the verge!)