The vast majority of learning in today’s schools is controlled by adults: what, when, for how long, etc. Students receive schedules, most with no choice at all, go to assigned classrooms and complete whatever tasks are asked of them. This is quite practical. But is it best?
New research is revealing just how important curiosity and control are to learning. Joel Vass, lead researcher on a study of brain activity concludes: “The bottom line is, if your’e not the one controlling your learning, you’re not going to learn as well.”
Several schools are experimenting with ways to allow students’ curiosity to drive learning.
The Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) was founded in 1989 by Jerry Mintz. AERO’s goal is to advance student-driven, learner-centered approaches to education. It features a database of schools around the world that “have a learner-centered approach.”
The Brooklyn Free School is one of them.
From a Huffington Post Article:
At Brooklyn Free School everything works like this: the students make the rules, they pick their classes, and they don’t have to come if they don’t want. There are no tests, no mandatory homework, no grades on a transcript. If there’s an issue that needs to be raised, you can call a meeting and discuss it with the entire school. If you’re sick of Chemistry, you can get up and walk out, or head up to a lounge and read a book all day.
The pragmatist in me says schools like this could never work on a mass scale. The idealist in me would like to try!