Summer 2009 Retreat

Summer 2009 Retreat

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Journal 16-Jenna

Research a present solution to an issue in Education that is on
your mind from this class. Attach the research and discuss what you learned
using the readings from class.

In education, it is seen often enough that many children find themselves disillusioned by school and, therefore, become disengaged from learning. One of the most depressing scenes depicted in Waiting for Superman, a documentary about the failure of public schools and the need for charter schools, is of these children who have huge academic dream and are inspired to learn but who are not able to access a quality education. How long does it take for a student who has always wanted to be a doctor to abandon those dreams and school itself when he or she attends a school that doesn’t even offer the A-G requirements to get into college? These students do not need a teacher to inspire them to learn, they need a teacher who will allow them to learn.

Throughout this class, we have been challenged to expand our own understanding of education through a form of democratic education. Most of us have never experienced democratic education outside of this class; however, as we have discussed in earlier classes, there are some schools that are designed to let students learn in such a way. These students are able to study what they wish at their own pace, such as at the Montessori Schools. These schools are designed under the idea that students desire to learn and will be more motivated to learn when they are given the resources and support to educated themselves at their own pace.

Kid Politics”, a podcast that is part of This American Life goes through different stories of children learning on their own. The first story is from Please Vote for Me, a documentary film that takes place in a class in China. The third graders in this class have elected positions and throughout this story these students begin using negotiating tactics without the guidance of adults to convince fellow classmates to vote for them. The interesting thing is, even though these students were not aided by parents, they formulated many of the same tactics as politicians use in their campaigns. Another story examines the Brooklyn Free School in New York. At this school, students decide their own “system of accountability” for the entire school. At this school the students choose all of their own classes, design the structure of the school, and still nearly all continue on to college. Students make all of the decisions. The only requirement of this school is that students attend the weekly meetings to make decisions. The vote is based off of majority. If something is occurring that the students dislike, they would call a school meeting, which sometimes resulted in the same lack in a solution. In one case, the students’ ability to make decisions was called into question regarding the use of screens in the school such as computers and cell phones. Adults thought that the use of screens would be distracting; however, the school agreed to continue to allow screens because the students votes greatly outnumber those of the parents. As it turned out, the students were very responsible and conscious of their use of those “distracting” technologies because they knew that they were accountable for their own decisions.

The first example demonstrates that students are capable of learning on their own. Through this method of education where students are allowed to make their own decisions and work together to address issues that come up during school, these students are more motivated to to continue learning. One student brought up that she is grateful for being able to attend a school where she has a voice. This level of empowerment leads to increased engagement and excitement to learn. Without teachers and administration setting a structure for the school and requiring students to conform to that structure, the school becomes a freer environment that is more conducive to learning. Additionally, because students are creating their own rules, they are holding themselves and each other more directly accountable for obeying those rules because they know it is something either they decided on or that the majority of the school decided on.


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