One way to help students gain agency over their own education is through technology. Despite the Internet revolution, the field of K-12 education has been relatively slow to respond to digital media.
As a tech coach for sixth and eighth graders, it is important for me to not only show the webware (web software or Web 2.0) kids can use to deepen their learning but to coach, or facilitate, how to use it creating new knowledge for themselves. This isn’t an easy task either.
Students are used to having information downloaded to them from a teacher where the teacher stands in the room talking while the kids sit silent. Passive learning dominates how schools go about the practice of education. I decided to do quick web search and found a site called blurtit which stated passive learning in this way:
The term passive learning is defined as that type of learning in which it is assumed that the students will enter the course which they want to study with open minds, which are like empty vessels or sponges, and the teachers will merely fill the minds of the students with knowledge, simply for the sake of securing better results in the examination.
Isn’t this true of how we, and I mean education in general, view learning? Maybe there are barriers in place that prevent us from having kids “gain their own agency over their own learning.” Those barriers may be the physical setup of the school, number of students in the class, lack of technology, lack of funding, or the school learning atmosphere. If kids are to own their learning then the barriers need to be removed. Some of the issues I stated above would be very difficult to overcome and even if there is one solution other little problems crop up causing further consternation. However, this is where it is vitally important for leaders to step to the plate and find solutions that work though they may be imperfect.
Even with barriers in place, students need to be brought to the point where they own their own learning. Teachers are to step down from the front of the room, discontinue downloading of information, and allow students to have freedom to explore how to learn while facilitating self-directed learning. This isn’t easy. It is time consuming. It takes a lot of energy. But in the end, kids have power over their learning.