Are important and authentic Teachers members of our family?
In this paper I would like to share an episode that happened in one of my graduate classes where we expanded the definition of teacher and therefore received a wider response to the question of who is your most important and authentic Teacher. It was interesting for me to note that only one person picked a school teacher and that of the 17 most important and authentic teachers among this groups lives 14 out of the 17 were family members.
Holistic Education – A Personal Revolution
This paper analyses the holistic approach inherent in unschooling, which takes learning outside of the restraints of mainstream education in order for each child to become the author of his or her own curriculum. Although educators now advocate student-centered modifications to the school system, we still view people in schools as agents, factors or products of an indispensable institutional agenda. The latest research and revisions developed in the name of reform are still generated in the context of a system that is unable perceive its own inadequacies and so projects them onto others-students, teachers and parents. Inspired by the work of Paulo Freire (1972), I contend that students must realize the pervasive oppression of schooling and gain power over themselves and their circumstances in order to become socially literate. These values of awareness, resistance and freedom involve going beyond reform to a genuine remaking of the learning environment in the spirit of holism.
Self-Directed Learning and Student Attitudes
It is a commonly held belief that students who enjoy their experience of school perform better academically. Thus, educators often struggle with the questions of how best to motivate students and how to make learning fun. Some parents and educators, however, have simply moved away from traditional educational practices and are choosing to let students take charge of their own learning. The intent of this study is to evaluate the attitudes of students in two Sudbury model schools – schools in which students from ages 4-19 are completely responsible for their own education – and to show the positive correlation between freedom and choice in the learning environment and positive student attitudes. This study involves the opinions of 23 students from two Sudbury model schools, forming a small focus group. The schools both volunteered for the study, and students were asked if they would like to participate. The students who participated ranged in age from 4-16. Each completed a questionnaire that included both scaled questions and open-ended questions. Overall, students reported having a very positive experience of school as assessed by the questionnaire. There were also recognizable trends in their narrative answers that pointed towards an overall appreciation for the level of freedom in their schools. In general, the study proved that in the group surveyed there is a positive correlation between freedom in the educational environment and the students’ attitudes about school. This study points to the validity of self-direction in the learning environment, and notes several options for follow-up studies.
In my paper I use my own children as examples of how this way of learning might look like. They are people learning from out of their own curiosity- evolving new interests and ideas as they go along, rather then having learning imposed on them. The paper also features Radio Free School, a weekly radio program produced by my family which is reflective of what I like to call authentic learning .