Robert Fried says…
There is quite likely no substitute for the experience of feeling empowered . . . if we hope for children to pursue learning enthusiastically within the structure of a classroom or a school. Learning and power are inextricably linked. [The Game of School, p. 65]
The results are so positive when students are able to be responsible for their own learning.I’ve seen this time and time again with my students, especially my “at-risk” students.
There is a story about Gary Wilkinson who is a star forward on the Utah State University team (currently ranked 23rd in country) that fits with this idea of learning and power. Guess what? The guy has courage and it worked out for him in the end. Take a look…
“During his senior year at Bingham High School in South Jordan, Utah, he decided that nothing he learned in school prepared him for life after. Faced with the choice of partying or studying, he dropped out.
“I’m not proud of it,” said Wilkinson, who was cut from his high school basketball team as a sophomore.
Wilkinson said he decided to attend one final class, and if he failed to “learn anything of value” on that day in November 2000, he would drop out. In the family studies course, he said, the teacher was going to assign the students to go on dates.
Wilkinson raised his hand.
“I’m leaving,” he said. “And I’m never coming back.”
For more on what happened to Gary check out the entire article.
In the blog, “Learning and power”, a great point is made about how students that feel empowered will learn with more delight. I feel that this should be a guide for all teachers in planning their curriculum. For struggling students especially, teachers should provide lessons and homework designed to build success. The building should be done in small bits for those who struggle. Students who have learning challenges should be given one brick at a time to build the assignment. One success will provide the emotional strength to carry on to the next challenge. Students should also be given the opportunity to redo or refine work that still needs improvements. Teachers should keep in mind that a key guide to creating curriculum is that the learning process should be as enjoyable possible. Happy students will maintain momentum through positive energy. Discouraged students will need far more energy to get the same task accomplished. Learning is a mental activity and one’s emotional state can be a gully or a bridge to a fulfilling and efficient learning process.