Today’s Education Should Be About Giving Learners Voice and Choice
Some of the recurring themes of my conference presentations and blog posts include:
- Schools are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning Education 3.0
- We are living in an age of information abundance
- It is important to facilitate learner agency
The underlying theme of all of my ideas, of all of my blog posts is about setting up the conditions where learners’ choice and voice flourish. I have come to believe that the only real education is one that fully embraces learner choice and voice. All instructional practices in this era of learning should revolve around learner choice and voice:
Education works when people have opportunities to find and develop unaccessed or unknown voices and skills. Audre Lorde poignantly describes this “transformation of silence into language and action [as] an act of self-revelation.” Opportunities for flexibility and choice assist learners in finding passion, voice, and revelation through their work. (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-choice-leads-to-voice-joshua-block)
Internet accessibility, technologies that permit the user-generated media, and social media allow for unlimited potential for learner choice and voice.
Learner Choice can be facilitated through:
- Giving learners choice in how they want to learn content including through videos, text-based resources, podcasts, hands-on modules, or human interactions (see UDL’s multiple means of representation).
- Giving learners choices to show what they know-what they learned through anything from writing a paper to creating a multimedia presentation to creating a performance art work (see UDL’s multiple means of action and expression).
- Giving learners choice to study topics based on personal interests (see Interest Fuels Effortless Engagement).
- Being a tour guide of learning possibilities – showing learners the possibilities and then get out of the way (see https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/show-learners-the-possibilities-and-then-get-out-of-the-way/).
Learner Voice can be facilitated by:
- Giving learners an opportunity to use their unique voices to show what they know-what they learned (see UDL’s multiple means of action and expression).
- Giving learners options to use their voice in a way that works best for them. Some may want to write, some may want to use art, photos, videos, and others may want to talk.
- Helping learners find authentic audiences with whom they can share their voice.
- Giving learners a say in how their school and classroom operate – being part of a democratic process.
As John Dewey notes (as is often the case, he says it best):
The essence of the demand for freedom is the need of conditions which will enable an individual to make his own special contribution to a group interest, and to partake of its activities in such ways that social guidance shall be a matter of his own mental attitude, and not a mere authoritative dictation of his acts.
– John Dewey
Democracy and Education