Open Universities: You do not need a high school diploma to get into university
In this paper I hope to empower students by exposing the myth that a high school diploma is a necessary first step to getting into a post secondary institution. In what follows, I will be sharing a brief history of open universities, give an example of an open university in a specific context and celebrate its policies, and continue to challenge some more myths about the importance of a high school diploma for success in post secondary schooling . .
Freed to Learn: Five Fundamental Concepts of Democratic Education
Children are natural learners each with distinct interests, abilities and rates of cognitive, emotional and social growth. Democratic Education institutionalizes five key concepts to free these natural instincts and individual differences to drive community self-governance and individual self-directed learning within a formal schooling environment. This paper summarizes the five concepts fundamental to Democratic Education and suggests how they can be applied within a school setting.
Leo J. Fahey
“Let them Jam!”: Incorporating Unschooling Pedagogy in the Secondary School Music Classroom
This paper examines how the principles of unschooling were accidentally uncovered during my tenure as a music teacher in a secondary school in suburban Toronto , Ontario . As traditional music pedagogy during my first year at this school was unsuccessful, I delayed the start of each class in an attempt to shorten my instructional time and lessen the acrimonious relationship I had developed with my students. This delayed segment of class time evolved into an extraordinary and valuable learning experience for all of my students which became known as “jam time.” This form of learning embraced the pedagogical philosophy of unschooling, which eventually motivated my students to increase their musical knowledge and skills as well as embrace traditional music pedagogy. In addition, this paper also examines the contextual philosophy of unschooling versus traditional pedagogy in the secondary school music class.
Dr. John L. Vitale
Rites of Passage, Aboriginal Education and Learning for the 21st Century: Walkabout as a Radical-and Workable-Alternative
The Walkabout Program is an alternative and experiential learning practice that helps students to develop necessary skills for authentic learning and real world preparation through the completion of six learning passages. This aboriginal-based program celebrates the vital transition-or passage-from adolescence to adulthood. The six learning passages include philosophical, practical, emotional/physical/spiritual challenge, career exploration, community/global response, and creative endeavour. Although its primary focus is to challenge First Nations educators to rethink status quo schooling, the Program has equally beneficial opportunities for all students.
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 .
Unschooling is about learning through living. As unschooling parents we want to open up the world for our children to explore. But what if your child is passionately interested in just one thing? Doesn’t that close off his access to the world and limit his learning? I have two children who have discovered passionate interests. Instead of spending my time trying to convince them to try new things, I decided to explore their interests with them. I was amazed at how much of the world came to life when they were free, and encouraged, to immerse themselves in their deep, passionate interests.
The Mystery of Pleasure: Thoughts on Teaching and learning Sex and Gender Relations in a Democratic Montessori Elementary Environment
Dr Maria Montessori (1870-1952), saw the child as a ‘spiritual embryo’ naturally gravitating towards a state of ‘normalization’ through the evolving discovery of a ‘cosmic task’ that emerged from inquiring into one’s identity and role in the universe. Although she laid a philosophical framework for this ‘educating of the human potential’; she never openly discussed sexuality and sexual knowledge as a necessary part of this development. Dr Riane Eisler is a contemporary feminist systems theorist whose ‘partnership model’ of sexual politics embraces (and, in fact, openly endorses) the tenets of the Montessori approach.
Matthew Henry R. Rich
War Against the Imagination: Technology, Kids, and Autonomy
All children’s movies produced, marketed and distributed by corporations are carefully designed sales delivery systems. They exist to sell. Secondarily, but of no less importance, they transmit ideology: even the most banal animated features transmit the social values and expectations of dominant culture. War Against the Imagination begins to develop a critical understanding of how the growing technological sophistication of story-telling media is changing both what and how stories teach young children. How are the boundaries between fantasy and reality disintegrating in the digital age, and of what impact on the lives of kids growing in our communities?
Apprenticeships: When schooling means more than doing
This paper is theoretically grounded in an educational movement known as unschooling. Unschooling is a learner centered democratic approach to education. Jerry Mintz (2004) defines learner-centered education as “an approach that is based on the interest of the student rather than curriculum driven, where someone else has the idea of what you ought to be learning,” and he defines democratic education as “education where students are actually empowered to make decisions about their own education and if they are in a school their own school.” This paper is about apprenticeship programs and how schooling and paper certificates have become more important in determining if someone can do a particular job than them actually doing it.
Carlo Ricci and Lisa Hill