Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Controversy: Letting students run their own school within a school!

Have you heard of the Independent Project? It’s controversial. If you haven’t heard about it than take a moment to watch this video:

Along with the link to this video, I posted this question on my twitter feed last month: “Do you agree or disagree with students running their own school within a school?” An old friend of mine, Dave Kirk, wrote a very thought-provoking email to me about how this subject touched him personally as a young student. He has allowed me to share it with you here:

“This is very cool. I love the idea behind this project and applaud those who helped to make it happen.

I would like to see more young people take such responsibility for their learning and view their teachers, schools, and textbooks merely as one set of many resources and one possible structure for learning rather than "the way to learn". The earlier in life one discovers that they can direct their own learning the better off they will be.

I had a few teachers in my education who understood that sitting in a classroom listening to them was just one way to learn and not necessarily the best way to learn - certainly not for everyone. I got along well with these teachers as they allowed me to take control of my learning (which often involved poor attendance in their class) and gave me the support to learn in other ways and trusted in me to do so.

My parents were also quite supportive of this approach. I remember my dad saying to me one day when reviewing my report card "I will ignore the numbers I see in this column (attendance) provided you continue to achieve numbers like the ones in this column (marks)". I remember that moment very clearly standing in my parents' kitchen, what I heard my dad say to me that day was "I trust you to be responsible for your learning and to have the discipline and good judgement to choose for yourself the resources and methods which will enable you to succeed."

I continued to post excellent marks and my father kept good on his promise to let me have complete responsibility and authority to direct my own learning. He never asked where I was during class or how I managed to learn the material and to me this was the ultimate expression of his trust and faith in me.

I consider that short conversation in my parents' kitchen to be the most powerful conversation my father and I ever had.

I thoroughly enjoyed viewing this documentary...thanks!”

After reading Dave's email – does it reinforce or challenge your initial thoughts about the Independent Project? Let us know by writing a comment below.


Unknown said...

Well, running your own school inside another school is really something. For students, it might be something that is very ironic especially to the schools admin and of course their integrity as well.

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courtney-banngerald said...

I think that this kind of project has the potential to change school structure, including the role of educators. We'd still need teachers, but they wouldn't be needed to just impart information onto students - their role would become that of an advisor and a co-learner. How Freirean! How we train teachers would have to change, for sure.