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Learning Freedom

-by Carly DeBoice   (Connect Charter School Student-teacher Alumni and Substitute Teacher)

Occasionally, how students articulate an idea is much more eloquent than that of the teacher. So, I’ll use their words to help me explain the concept they coined today, “Learning Freedom.”

This arose out of a request for each class to nominate two students to join a team who will help visitors during the upcoming Innovate West conference. Choosing a few students can be a tricky task for teachers. To find a handful of students who were genuinely up for the task, students were asked answer the following question, “What is your favorite thing about Connect Charter School?”

It is important to note that the students wrote individually, without any discussion or prompting. The similarity of many student responses was fascinating. George was explicit, saying, “My favourite thing about Connect Charter is the freedom we are given. Connect Charter lets us have freedom to solve problems any way we want.” Rowan takes this idea further and explains, “I love the freedom because we give you the freedom of how to think, how to feel, and how to learn. In this school everyone is respected for their learning choices. We think this is important because everyone has a different learning way. We believe that everyone is different, and we should have the freedom to be different!”

As teachers, we talk a lot about giving students choice. Apparently, students perceive providing choice in lessons as, “Learning Freedom.” Integrating elements of student choice into assignments and classwork has been backed up by research as well. A review of forty-one studies by Patall, Cooper and Robinson (2008) concluded that student choice is not only linked to intrinsic motivation, but in addition, quality of task performance and willingness to take on more difficult tasks. However, educators should be warned. Too much choice can have the opposite effect (Goodwin, 2001). The full article can be found here.

 Where are you on the “Learning Freedom” scale?

1 comment:

Garry McKinnon said...

Carly, thank you for sharing your insights as a student teacher alumni and new member of the teaching profession. We appreciate all that you have contributed to Connect Charter School. As you highlight in your blog, we learn a great deal from our students when we give them an opportunity to reflect on the nature of learning and teaching in the school. The student comments about appreciating the freedom to choose how they learn (learning freedom) are very significant. Thank you as well for sharing the article on student choice which supports the student observations.

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