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Field Post #3

VSalas's picture

One of the issues that keeps popping into my mind is this new model of student freedom in schools. This concept still shocks me, especially when I see students at my praxis at Bell high school where they are given more freedom in their academics then I had when I was their age. I understand the purpose of allowing urban kids to have a space to voice their concerns by questions their teachers and the administration, which is important when student enter higher education, but the lack of discipline still makes me question whether these students are given proper guidance to achieve this goal. For example, at my praxis at Bell High School I help student with their essays in the LIT Lab but a lot of the time there are no students using the lab. Now our English teacher, Ms. S, always says that it’s the student’s choice to use this resource and eventually they’ll learn when “they receive their grades back.” This concept seemed a little harsh considering that it would be setting the student up to fail to “learn from their mistakes”. How will this effect 1. Their self-esteem and 2. Teach the student the correct way to do things academically?

I feel that in order to research whether this method does more good then harm I would need to conduct interviews of students from varies grade levels and the resources that they know about and how to use them. It’s hard watching these students struggle or turn in half-attempted assignments because I feel there isn’t much consequences or pressure from administration for these students to reach their full potential. Also I would also like to look into whether these students feel supported because if they are expected to figure assignments out themselves then that could be an added stress than just being told what to do. There’s a lot that I still want to look into this new model because many of these things are still fairly new within the education community.           



jccohen's picture


This question of how much and how freedom might be helpful and/or harmful for students is a provocative focus for your paper.  While it is important to ground your investigation in what you're experienced and learned in the site, I'm not sure you'll have the opportunity to pursue interviews as you suggest here.  If so, great, but if not, you'll be relying on your fieldnotes from your visits to the school as well as library/internet research into the questions you raise here.  Golann's article on 'no-excuses' schools provides an interesting counterpoint, and I think you'll find some interesting pieces on student freedom and learning in the literature.