- the act of conforming, acquiescing, or yielding ~ dictionary.com
- the act or process of doing what you have been asked or ordered to do ~ merriam-webster
- the act of complying with a wish, request, or demand; acquiescence ~ the free dictionary
The Huffington Post’s parent-child interview series, #TalkToMe, includes a video with Richard Branson and his son, Sam. (see the video here) Richard discusses a variety of topics with his son, but his appreciation of learning captured my attention. How did he nurture his love of learning? Outside of school.
“I love learning. I did not like learning at school at all, which is why I left school at 15,” Richard said. “I just love learning about life. And the best way to learn about something is to immerse yourself in it.” ~ Richard Branson
Similarly, John Spencer recently wrote “about things that [he] once hated in school and now love[s]”. It’s interesting to note how his perspective has allowed him to develop an appreciation for activities like group work & note-taking. Why the shift?
So, maybe a part of the solution is to give students more agency in their learning. ~ John Spencer
John also mentions his hatred for a certain activity because it was compliance-driven.
School vs. learning. Compliance vs. agency.
Many of our students struggle — not because of academic rigor, but because they know they would flourish in a different environment. This will not apply to every situation, but consider the students who challenge their teachers and administration, who don’t participate in class activities, who attend class when it suits them… Are we quick to judge them because they need to learn how to obey rules, or do they see school as a system that doesn’t meet their needs?
What else do we have to offer students who do not thrive in our school environment? What needs to change? How do we appreciate their perceptive qualities (any student who sees school as a system has some serious leadership traits) while they spend a few years learning with us? What is agency and how do we provide this opportunity?
…or do we accept defeat and remain silent?
*Related reading: 9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” Us
My students (particularly those who are struggling) are always somewhat taken aback when I ask “how can I make this work better for you?” – but I think it’s a key question, and sometimes it takes multiple asks to have your students realize that you mean it sincerely, and then start to think about it.
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