Student Voice & Choice
Updated: Jul 2, 2018
What role should students play in their own education?
Although it would be difficult to confirm and I had some difficulty finding Regression Therapy on Craigslist, I think that the number one frustration that infants endure is not being able to express their needs in a language that yields best results. Sure crying when hungry, tired or soiled works, but the nuance of I'd really like to pet that puppy but first I need to grab the glasses off your face is lost on primary care givers. To add to that frustration, once children enter school and are more than capable of expressing their needs, wants, and interests, they are rarely offered the opportunity to do so; nevertheless, a key aspect of a meaningful education is offering children "voice and choice." And as you guessed, I plan to tell you why.
Letting students share their thoughts and contribute to constructing meaning out of their work (and world) allows them to discern important facts and synthesize information. If they are already motivated because they have been able to choose the subject matter all the better. At the root of this concept is validation. When you accept a child's ideas and then listen deeply, discuss passionately, and reflect thoughtfully with the same care one might use when choosing the right sunglasses for your favorite retro shirt, joy, connection, and boundless learning are your reward.
In many ways, curriculum content is a secondary consideration and it's the child that's the true curriculum. For families and faculty this takes a lot of time and patience, but in the end, it's more than worth it.