Past & present
Anyone familiar with the industrial model of education (pretty much everyone) should be skeptical about our capacity for this reform. This 180° turn way from standards- and competency-based pedagogy has a few precedents, and I am curious to learn more about classrooms and schools where independence and agency have been assigned top priority.
One school system who fits this paradigm and whose progress I have enjoyed following is High Tech High. Most of what they have shared is related to older students, so I’m curious to see more about their elementary programs.
Agency as the aim of teaching has been gaining momentum since John Dewey at the latest, and can arguably be traced back at least as far as Socrates. Luckily, my teaching experiences have tended to be less traditional and more progressively minded, and the article, How a Focus on Independent Learning Transformed My Most At-Risk Students, certainly reflects my ideas about the importance of independence in learning.
We make our own agency, no?
— Karen Fasimpaur (@kfasimpaur) October 2, 2014
One of my approaches to cultivating agency is Independent Inquiry. Since I started the project six years ago, the mission of this project has been to:
Unify learning at school, learning at home, and learning anywhere, anytime.
Empower learners to engage in and reflect on their own inquiry processes.
Encourage interest- and passion-driven learning.
Integrate peers, parents, communities, and global networks into the inquiry process.
— Bart Miller (@BarMillEDU) January 28, 2018
While success has varied from year to year, cohort to cohort, I can comfortably claim that the process we use – an online reflection form and weekly meeting in class – helps agency to flourish.
Call to action
Once again, another gem appeared on the IB PYP Twitter feed. The quote below is a perfect call to action for teachers who are serious about promoting Agency – voice, choice, and ownership.