The MOOC I’m enrolled in now reminded me of this article I read recently, about the allure of absolute learner control. The article makes a passing reference to the Brooklyn Free School, which I need to learn more about.
The idea behind the school is that there are no grades, no tests, no mandatory assignments. The students organize their learning and are responsible, with guidance from teachers, for their choices. The idea is that learning is deeper when it is self-directed.
This approach for school age kids is not for the faint of heart, of course, and I admit that as compelling as I find the premise, I certainly wonder about the effects of maturity. In my MOOC, I have complete freedom to engage or not, but I have the emotional maturity and self-direction, at least in theory, to make good choices. Would I have as an adolescent?
Maybe. Curiosity is such a compelling motivator if properly curated and skillfully directed. I was about to write, “but learning is hard work,” but maybe that just means we are doing it wrong.