Do Schools Give Students the Chance to Grow “Organically”?

child chasing chickensWhen we picture the animals on an organic farm, we see chickens or cows roaming free in a bucolic setting.  Happily eating naturally and growing organically, they are not force-fed filler or injected with chemicals to enhance or speed the growth process.  We often consider these animals to be the lucky ones, though they will share a similar fate in the end, compared to their counterparts in traditional farms equipped with over-crowded cages.

Students in schools are certainly not chickens or cows, nor do they deserve to be thought of as such, but the idea of school as farm makes for a compelling metaphor, one that helps guide our thoughts on what education in schools could and should look like.  What if students in schools weren’t shuttled from classroom to classroom, often constrained to a less than comfortable desk?  What if schools didn’t ask students to compartmentalize learning into 45 minute blocks of time?  What if schools didn’t force-feed students content that was not relevant or interesting to them?  In short, what if schools worked to adapt learning environments, i.e. physical space, schedule, pedagogy, curriculum, to allow for greater freedom, flexibility, and creativity for their teachers and students?  What if, like an organic farmer, we set the fences, fostered an environment for organic growth and development, and allowed our students to then be free-range?

There are certainly a great number of schools, organizations, and educators working towards these ideals through conversation and practice.  The aim of this blog is to join that conversation, share ideas and success stories from around the world, and to report on some of the efforts and experiments of one independent school that is embarking on the journey.

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Posted on July 30, 2013, in Assessment, Curriculum and Instruction, Physical Space, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great post! This also seems to be a class issue. Schools serving populations with lower SES typically have lower test scores and as a byproduct receive even more restricted instruction. Meanwhile their more affluent counterparts have more opportunities to be “free range”.

  2. Thanks. You raise an interesting point. Saw a vid today in which some schools in struggling areas have found ways to set students free, increase test scores, and improve their communities! Inspiring stuff. Here’s the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RP3zcS2g9RQ

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