Episode 23: Designing Schools for Self-Directed Learning
What would school look like if we designed education based on the belief that every child is a genius who can change the world? What if we put learning into the hands of the student instead of the teacher? What if our instructional models included less “instruction” and more time guiding kids to finding their own answers and inspirations? These are just some of the starting points for today’s discussion, and for the work that Tyler Thigpen does on a daily basis.
Guest: Tyler Thigpen
Resources and Expanded Show Notes
In This Episode:
- “We believe that there's a connection between developing strong character and, you know, being able to shoulder the responsibility for your own learning. And so, you know, there, the learners are given opportunities to make rules and to learn how to follow those and to hold one another accountable and responsible for those rules and in doing so, you know, practice good, strong character.” (8:25)
- “You know, wherever there's something that teachers or adults have typically done in a school setting that we think learners can do, you know, we'll step back and we'll let them do it. And it will take a while and it will be messy, but it's, you know, what neuroscientists call productive struggle. That's really missing from a lot of teacher-led classrooms in our country today.” (12:16)
- “And of course they have so much choice and they have to experience the natural consequences of those choices. And that's very powerful. I mean, them experiencing the natural consequences, positive or negative, of their choices is maybe the most powerful instructor, you know, in the building. It, you know, the more so than what any caring adult, you know, provides for them.” (15:19)
- “We are sort of agnostic to how fast or slow they're going. That's one of the beautiful things about a self-paced environment. You can go as fast or slow as you want. We typically find learners go faster on average, and most of our learners do, you know, are above grade level, you know, as evidenced by norm referenced tests nationally, but we're okay with 'em going slow too. Cause sometimes that's okay. And, hopefully, that kind of environment that embraces that being behind, being on track, being ahead, whatever, you know, helps them flourish a little bit more. And appreciates the unique differences of every young person.” (20:13)
- “I think a real great critique of self-directed learning, if you don't know anything about it, you just hear the idea. It's like, oh, that's, that's pretty self-centered for kids. It's like, oh, just let them do whatever they want to do…And so we included a definition of self-directed learning that has young people on the hook for the other. For helping others, for finding a calling, you know that will in fact change their communities and change the world.” (37:58)
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