Free to Learn: A Radical Experiment in Education

2011 ,    »  -   53 Comments
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Ratings: 6.42/10 from 31 users.
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Free to Learn: A Radical Experiment in Education

Free to Learn is a documentary that offers a perspective of the daily happenings at The Free School in Albany, New York.

Like many of today's radical and democratic schools, The Free School expects children to decide for themselves how to spend their days.

The Free School, however, is unique in that it transcends obstacles that prevent similar schools from reaching a economically and racially diverse range of students and operates in the heart of a city.

For over thirty years in perhaps the most radical experiment in American education, this small inner-city alternative school has offered its students complete freedom over their learning.

There are no mandatory classes, no grades, tests, or homework, and rules are generally avoided. As a last resort, rules are created democratically by students and teachers, often at the prompting of a student.

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53 Comments / User Reviews

  1. ZarathustraSpeaks

    Sounds like Ferris Bueller's Day Off!

  2. Amanda Magick

    is the entire thing with no sound??

  3. pwndecaf

    Sorry, no. There is sound.

  4. bbga

    I'm left baffled by this. As a teacher, I find this disturbing in some ways.

    This approach isn't new, although, it is an extreme version of "self-discovery". But, I think there were incidents in the doc that elucidate problems with this approach (there are many).

    Several minutes into the film, a little girl (she looks about 5 or 6 years old) smacks a little boy down to the ground. It takes about a minute for an attendant teacher to come to the scene. Teachers should always have a "with-it-ness" to curtail any potential situation like this before it gets out of hand. This teacher did NOT. Once arriving on the scene, the teacher handled the situation poorly.

    The idea that children can form councils to work out problems is subject to a lot of scrutiny. Children, particularly between the ages of 5-7, are very egocentric - meaning they see the world only through their eyes. They have difficulty viewing other perspectives. From a psycho-social standpoint, they lack the ability to comprehend that good - or what is "good" - is determined by socially agreed-upon standards of individual rights. This is isn't something they develop until later. One boy, when speaking about council meetings, states, "these people don't know what the heck they're doing." The little boy recognizes something that we (hopefully) also see. This approach does not work. Children lack the ability to think abstractly to solve intricate, or complex social problems. The adults should be running the show...they're NOT.

    On the academic side of things...

    Part of the vid shows (making an observational guess on my part) a Kindergarten class. The students are learning basic letter writing (tracing letters). Ironically, I just came from a classroom of bright Kindergarten children who have learned how to construct sentences and they have learned how to count to 500 using the University of Chicago math ed system. The kids in this vid? ...not learning nearly as much! So, that brings me to my big question...how much higher-order learning is really going on at the Free School? I've probably answered my own question.

    There's much more I could say. Issues surrounding special education... are there programs for children with learning disabilities? If the children choose their own education, how would a teacher properly discover these deficits? Also, does this school prepare, truly prepare, these kids for the rigors of the real world: where there is hierarchy, rules, expectations (personal and professional)?

    Children really do enjoy structure, even though the proponents of this school seem to think they don't. The best school isn't one that is too permissive (like this one) or authoritarian. There is a happy middle and if you are an adult looking to place a child in a good school, seek out a school that insists on academic excellence and that prefers a loving, but authoritaTIVE approach (there is a difference between authoritarian and authoritative, fyi!).

  5. Gadea

    This is an amazing school, I love it.

  6. dewflirt

    Don't know what to make of this, left me feeling a tad uncomfortable.

  7. thinkagainagain

    I don't know which made me more uncomfortable; the kid running and swinging a sword or the other kid shooting arrows on a playground full of kids.

  8. dewflirt

    Or maybe the airy fairy teachers that never seemed to be where they were needed, or the kids wandering out of the school when they liked, the less confident ones hanging around sucking their finger, the fact I actually needed the subtitles a few times to understand what they were saying... I really wanted to enjoy kids enjoying the freedom to help structure their own learning. All I saw was kids in need of discipline, dishing it out to each other. Not enough laughter either. Might be that I'm picking up on the film makers mood or his moody style. Everyone seemed a little lost :/
    Edit, not that I want to bring back caning or anything ;)

  9. thinkagainagain

    Well maybe cane the teachers.

  10. thinkagainagain

    I would say the teacher handled it poorly! It was the girl who did the hitting but the little boy got the lecture.

  11. dewflirt

    I'll leave that to the kid with the stick :)

  12. bbga

    Right,a good teacher, as I stated earlier, has a with-it-ness. They observe and make sure incidents between students never escalate to that point.

    And dewflirt brought up another good point I was going to make... children going and coming. Where is the supervision? I'm VERY concerned about that... that could be a potential nightmare scenario. It seems there is NO security (locked doors to keep intruders out, etc.)

    I'm sure that the teachers are there because they agree with this very permissive stance on education- if there was a teacher there who was authoritative, she/he would not fit the mold.

  13. Richard Raymond

    Even parents who put their kids into all kinds of activities realize that kids get bored when left to do their own thing. I agree that some free time should be left to children. Any kind of school except one that teaches religious dogma is fine with me. As long as reading, writing, mathematics and critical thinking skills are incorporated in the curriculum there will be some hope for mankind.

  14. Terry O'Grady

    Summerhill around the same time, in England; St.Lucy's in Toronto same time, total failure, back to normal in a month. I was teaching there. Staff needed a psychologist just to sort them out.

  15. Terry O'Grady

    I'd like to know how the past pupils of this lunatic asylum have done in later years.

  16. matter0ni

    lol yeah because when we dont cram ORDER down peoples throats, they are chaotic and unruly? so you mean to tell me the only way to get people to behave themselves is by threat of violence (fall in line, do it my way, or ELSE!). thats even scarier. is obedience really obedience when it only occurs under threat? stop trying to be a control freak and run peoples lives, and let people voluntarily choose how to live.

    when i was forced to go to the government's public run schools, i failed miserably. i was an extremely gifted kid, and when i wasn't forced to learn anymore, i went to college and made a nice life for myself, voluntarily. give people an option, and stop being such a control freak.

  17. Terry O'Grady

    Kids need to learn. So people get real; they have to be taught.

  18. pwndecaf

    I saw a group of kids in need of direction. I do believe that an amount of freedom to pursue one's interests is a good idea, but this appeared to go too far.

    I think a school should teach all subjects at the same time as much as possible so that there is relevance, perspective and context to what is being learned.

  19. bbga

    As a teacher, I certainly don't teach my students by threat of violence. You seem (at least pretty explicitly) to be suggesting that the alternatives always rely on violence. I've taught in many different public schools and the picture you are painting is JUST NOT SO. Maybe there are some poor performing teachers out there, yes that exists in every profession, but no school or school district supports violence as a means of teaching. It sounds to me like you are very bitter about your childhood and this is tainting your perception (maybe just a little?)

    I'm sorry you had such a traumatic experience as a child. That doesn't mean that the remedy for bad teaching is no rules, or, worst of all, that children should make the rules.

    I can only speak for myself. I am certainly not a control freak, but I understand that children do not have the cognitive, social and moral maturity to make the decisions that these kids are trying to make.

    There is a better, middle ground - where teachers set expectations, and are both sages and guides for the children. There are times (however loving a teacher tries to be) when punishment, which can take many forms, is necessary. Violent? No, not even in a hyperbolic sense - a teacher would be fired! But, teachers are asked to find constructive ways of teaching children that destructive, counterproductive, and distracting behaviors are not allowed in a classroom environment where academic learning time is to be maximized.

  20. Gadea

    I attended Public School in New York City and I hated it.
    It was truly horrible. I wish I had attended a Free School instead.
    I sent my children to Catholic School in NYC and they hated.
    Uniforms, rigidity, dogmatic learning are the hallmarks of Catholic
    Schools.
    Perhaps The Free School, goes too far in the other direction,
    but the kids seem a lot more assertive, expressive, happier.

  21. disqus_41nBEHWDWL

    I heard someone say that he was curious about how former students of the free school had managed their lives after that. I was expecting too the doc would tell us what was made of them. The producers only interviewed some of them about their experience at the school, but didn't tell us what they were able to do as professionals.

    Life is not all about what each of us want to do. We have to follow rules, and I'm afraid those kids have dificulty respecting rules. On top of that, although we should be free to choose what to do professionally, we have to be acquainted with the options we have. Who of us never heard about someone who found out to be gifted in some activity because he was stimulated by a teacher, although before that he hated or at least thought he hated that stuff? So, children have to be taught the basic subjects and stimulated to develop abilities so they can decide what they are interested in according to their capabilities. Besides that, they should learn from the early ages that one thing is fundamental in life, in all areas of interest, that is discipline, which I couldn't really find in the school showed.

  22. disqus_41nBEHWDWL

    The great thing in life is balance. Some of the methods used in this school could be mixed with the traditional system, like the meeting in which the kids were given the chance to solve their problems by themselves. Of course, they also have to have enough time to play, but all of this have to be explored in harmony with a daily schedule of classes about the basic disciplines.

  23. matter0ni

    no, as a collectivist state, when you aren't placed into public schooling as a child, you are removed from your parents care. if the child isn't given up freely (who would do that?), then the State will resort to force of violence (a man with a gun will come take the child) that is the State's way of threatening you to fall in line, and obey, or ELSE! that is threat of violence.

    i was crammed into the public school system my entire life, and it has done nothing for me other than teach me how to OBEY, how to comply, how to conform, and how to waste my time in clever ways. so what did i do? i dropped out. and what did i do once i was free, and able to voluntarily do as i pleased? i learned how to code, program, design, read everything i could from philosophy, to history, to neurochemistry, and was able to explore to my heart's content, which was about 10 hours a day.

    no force, no coercion, no threat, no State necessary.

  24. bbga

    Collectivist state? Do you mean you think the U.S. is? If you mean the U.S. is collectivist I beg to differ!...that is a term that is related to communist states, not liberal democracies with mixed economies...

  25. bbga

    Also, yes, children do have options other than public school...there is private school, alternative school, and home schooling. But, we expect our citizens (in the U.S.) to be educated, so that they can read and write, and be independent thinkers...just like you!

    I'm also assuming that your learned to read and write in public school, right?

  26. matter0ni

    we live in a VERY collectivist State. i am not a free individual, with the option to opt-out. i must pay taxes, i must pay money for causes i don't agree with like bailouts, murder overseas, i must abide by rules i do not agree with in the forms of laws, etc etc. that is what collectivism is.

    i have to wear my seat belt or i will be ticketed. if i choose to practice my religion in the privacy of my own home, i will be thrown in a cage. i did not agree nor consent to these rules, yet here i am suffering from them because of the choices of other people. that is what collectivism is. its the opposite of voluntarism.

    you think collectivism only exists under communist rule? you are politically ignorant, uneducated, and not very well-read. stick to the talking points on cable TV... i see that's where your education came from.

  27. bbga

    LOL. Well, first of all, if you want to attack my education, go ahead. You don't know me or my credentials, so if that makes you feel better about yourself then troll on ;)

    It is clear that you do not understand what collectivism is. You are improperly applying the term collectivism when what you really mean is federalism.

    You do have choices, you made a choice to drop out of school when you were younger. Your entire post sounds like a bunch of whining on your part and it sounds like you want to blame people (the state, gov't, etc) for your own personal failings. Grow up!
    I

  28. Janice Burdick

    "...the kids were given the chance to solve their problems by themselves." Exactly. BY THEMSELVES seems to be the entire focus of this "school". I didn't see one thing that impressed me about this place.

    I allowed my son to attend a "free" school for his first two years of High School. What a mistake! He didn't learn a THING....well...except for what he learned from me, at home. And perhaps he learned a bit about social interaction at the "school". But mainly it was just a glorified day care center where the "teachers" got paid for simply being present. NOT a good method of learning....AT all.

  29. Janice Burdick

    These are kids...not adults. They NEED to learn some forms of order and discipline....how to schedule their time...how to make decisions based on the options they are given, and not simply told to do "whatever, whenever, where ever". And showing them how to do all of the above is entirely different than CRAMMING ORDER down their throats. Can't you see that?

  30. Janice Burdick

    I'm sorry for the way YOU were treated, but that doesn't mean that ALL children should therefore be given free reign in all ways, at all times. They NEED to learn HOW to make choices. And teaching them how to do so is NOT the same thing as being forced to OBEY.
    Again....I am sorry for YOUR rotten upbringing. However, neither what YOU endured nor what these kids are experiencing, are what I would consider to be a good way of "educating" children. Kids need teachers who can INSPIRE them to WANT to learn. Period. All this other crap you are ranting and raving about is YOUR baggage, and has NOTHING to do with anything....except YOU.

  31. Microhero

    Ignorance and lack of structure, if anything, create less free individuals. This is an extremist approach to a very real problem and ultimately detrimental to the future of these children.

    Which doesn't mean that current education standards shouldn't be constantly and profoundly revised.

    The pressure to provide education to as many people as possible and to insure that a certain amount and type of information is conveyed, that we as a society consider relevant to a functioning, active and "productive" adult, created a over standardized system witch is often oblivious of an individual's inner and outer context and generates from very early age ideals of adequacy or lack thereof based merely on academic (later on professional) achievements, that eventually conditions the individual's sense of self worth by labeling him as proficient or not, intelligent or not, capable or not and ultimately successful or not. The consequences of these imbalances are quite visible in western or westernized societies and contribute deeply to the perpetuation of social inequalities.

    There MUST be somewhere in between.

  32. bringmeredwine

    My hat goes off to teachers, thank you!

  33. Eve Vee

    Speaking generally, I find we have too many expectations for others and not enough for ourselves. I took myself out my middle year of high school and finished all my courses several months early and went to china. A "free" school only works if you have motivation within yourself to learn. If your son failed to prove he had his own motivations and goals in learning in the first year and you still allowed him to take another, who's fault is that? Sounds to me you got tricked by a smart kid who likes not doing any work and then he got to do his grad year with his friends. A plan well executed. Lots of the people in the free school (I distance learned,never was in a classroom or out of the house except for finals) were doing the same thing. If the school was at an actual physical location I can guarantee he had friends in it, they probably planned it all in grade 9 haha
    I found it pretty interesting the parents didn't notice they were being fooled. I think it would take only a moment of conversation to learn a students true motives behind seeking out independent learning. Maybe we should focus on teaching parents communication and children self respect :P

  34. youarenotyourthoughts

    Because I was being picked on mercilessly in public inner-city schools, my parents sent me to a Montessori school for my 7th grade year. That year I was intimidated by the math teacher and I avoided the subject. Miraculously I somehow satisfied their quota of math hours for the year ---- yet, when I transferred back to public school in 8th grade I was WAY behind what was being taught. I had not had pre-algebra of any kind. I might as well of been held back in the topic. This planted a seed and created a pattern that lingered on from high school to college. I never got the opportunity to take higher math because I was always relearning basic skills that I was never taught well. My SAT scores barely were a 350 in math. Yet I was winning national essay contests and an arts scholarship recipient.
    These parents are defining their children's strengths before the child has any say! If someone would have forced and inspired me to learn and enjoy math my life would have been different. I wouldn't have failed a few college courses and spent thousands of dollars to catch up.
    You can't let your kid decide whats best for him/her!! Or else they would be eating candy for breakfast, wearing pjs all day, and playing with sticks and video games forever. SMH.

  35. Ruby

    As a teacher, I can see why they created this school back in 1969. Times were different and it was believed that all students learned the same. Forty four years later, we now know that you need variation, movement, interest, and yes choices when it comes to education. Classrooms are now learner centered, but they still need rules, procedures and consequences (just as in the 'real world'). This play learning that they were doing is what the students should be doing everyday after school.

    A few things I noticed:

    - Modeling. I didn't see any teachers, in this video, show a student HOW to do something. While I am all for trial and error, you do only get so much time with a student. If you are unable to model how to do something, teach them how and where to find the answers. They seemed to do a lot of guiding socially but are lacking guidance in learning. "I do it, we do it, you do it"

    - WHY WHY WHY WHY... Are the teachers explaining to the students WHY they need to know the academics? How are you expecting a student to make a choice when they do not know the choices? For a school that teaches grades 1-8, they are teaching the foundation of education for the rest of the students' school career. Especially with Math; you have to know the basics to get to the hard stuff. They need to know why these academics we are teaching them are important and how it will help them.

    - Safety? I bet those parents had to sign a wavier to not sue if a student gets hurt.

    - (This is the biggest one.) VOCABULARY. The biggest struggle with learning is vocabulary. In 4th grade you start "reading to learn". How are you going to "teach yourself" if you do not know basic words or understand the concept of context clues. They have to not only know the word and meaning, but be able to read the word.

    - Which brings me to reading, those teachers that are standing around could at least pick up a book and model reading to the students. There have been many times that I have been found roaming the halls in the morning with my nose in the book before class (purposely ignoring the morning "Hi Mrs. ___" and "What are we doing today"s to show how the book has drawn me in). I also have encouraged other teachers to come in during a free moment to read to themselves in my reading center. You would be surprised how "that one time coach came in to independent read for 15 mins" rubbed off on my boys. How you act rubs off on the students.

    - Grades? Tests? - While I think many grades are to be subjective, I do see a need for assessments. At least informal assessments that look for improvement. If no improvement, then something needs to be done (on teacher part).

    - Group discussion - I am all for discussing our problems (which 95% of conflict in students this ages has to communication and/or culture). One thing I want to point out is the overuse, it looked as if some of the students were bored and annoyed during it as if it was a repeated offense. Which I think the age gap has something to do with it. What 8th grader would want to sit through a 7 year old's "fight"? What tween girl is going to want to air her girl fight with the whole school? While group discussions are great, they should only be used for topics that will related to the whole group such as bullying or drugs. Little things should be left to the teacher to mediate a discussion with only those students involved.

    Teachers (should be) engaging students to WANT TO learn what is on the curriculum by creating choices OF hands on activities that has to do with the lesson. With that said, I believe that these "free schools" would work better for high school age. One needs to build the foundation of the academics and learning before they are given the responsibility of deciding what/when to learn.

  36. CaseDigidy

    I am inclined to disagree. Children want to learn, and if someone has obvious strengths in one area, and obvious weakness in another, why force them to learn something they will never use? It is important to learn the basics of every subject, but formal schooling tends to go overboard on maths and englishes and avoid art and physical education all together (or you may have an hour class once a week) ... As well, if you let a child eat candy for breakfast and they end up sick afterwards, there is a good chance they wont do that again... Besides, most kids DO eat junk for every meal, fruit loops for breakfast is not any better than a Mars bar.

  37. CaseDigidy

    I completely disagree. Discipline? How about loving what you do and making an enjoyable life for yourself while being a contributing member to society? ... You go follow your 'rules' like a doormat while I make a happy life for myself... Children need to learn the basics of every subject, but I imagine when you say that, you mean math and english, as that is all the current formal school system cares about... They SHOULD learn the basics of every subject, meaning EQUAL times for math, english, science, art, physical education, world issues, etc.

  38. CaseDigidy

    If someone struggles in a particular area why FORCE them to pursue that? They are obviously not going to have a career that is centered around that ... If they want to expand their learning in that area, sure, let them ... But if not, why force them to do so?

  39. CaseDigidy

    That is the parent's job, not the schools ... Parents teach kids how to act in society, schools educate.

  40. CaseDigidy

    Teachers in this type of school are just as capable of inspiring children to become educated in a particular subject... It is up to PARENTS to teach kids how to behave and make choices in society.

  41. CaseDigidy

    You could also learn to read and write NOT in public school. People are so afraid of actually trusting that their kids want to learn and want to excel. Every kid has big dreams, that are eventually crushed by our society.

  42. CaseDigidy

    What about art, music, physical education, broad sciences? Not as important right?

  43. RickRayFSM

    No, CD, those things are very important. However, as a retired elementary school teacher who taught art, music, phys. ed. etc , those were the fun subjects that kids really enjoyed, as did I. Children these days are expected to learn too much and so get turned off of reading, writing, and math which need to take precedence. They need direction but some free time to enjoy their childhood since it's so short. I only wish I was a kid again because we weren't expected to learn nearly as much as they do today. Keeping up with the Japanese so we can have jobs I guess !

  44. Matthew Lerma

    I wish there were more schools like this. I guess we'll have to start our own.

  45. Fidel

    I thought it looked wonderful. I'd love for my son to go to something like that.

  46. lori

    My 10 year old is in public school...has dyslexia and is now so lost (even with an IEP in place) she is acting out, disengaged, angry! I think its funny that so many people on here think public school is a good place for a child. Public schools are prisions for children! I intend to take my child out as soon as possible.

  47. Janice Burdick

    I wrote about this a long time ago, so my memory isn't the freshest on this subject. However, I never said I think public school is a good place for a child. On the contrary, I totally agree with you about them being prisons for children. Public schools are geared to dumb-down children. It's all a "part of the plan"....but that's a whole different subject. All I was saying is that a GOOD teacher INSPIRES kids to WANT to learn. I don't know how anyone could argue with THAT. OF COURSE it's ALSO the job of the parents. Duh. Anyway, Lori...if your child is so unhappy, why not taker her out right now? Can you home school her?

  48. lori

    Im working on a plan to work from home and get district to pay for a tutor. Unfortunately, I have an ex husband who listens to "the experts" and doesnt know his daughter well enough to see that this public school experience is hurting her. He'd be happy to just put her on some mind numbing medication and let her ride it out - if a doctor tells him thats what is best! I have a long fight ahead of me on this one...

    I agree a good teacher inspires, however, the public school curriculum is so restrictive, teaching to take a test...I feel they have little freedom to be creative. Also, they are mostly products of pubic school education themselves and most I find care more about tenure & pensions then they do about their students.

  49. Hortense

    You make good case... for the free school. Your grammar is deplorable,

    Pretending to read? ...15 minutes? This is exemplary of the thinking that guides public school. Teachers view their students as lab animals. Children are smarter than that.

    As for the times changing, you are correct, except that, with big government involvement in the form of No Child Left Behind and Common Core, it has become vastly more standardized.

    Learner centered? What a hoot. I have attended my children's classes. It was akin to something between a military exercise, and a religious ritual. The teacher paces the room with a stopwatch ("A fourth grader should be able to read x number of words in one minute, with x number of errors!"), while the kids sit around the room in pairs, one reading, one listening for errors, all at once!. The classes are so compressed that the children are timed on how long they take to put away a textbook and grab the next one. Everything is reduced to an alotted handful of minutes in which it must be accomplished.

    What is needed are these types of schools and more. Some children thrive on that kind of pressure, but many do not. The less that we are forced to homogenize children to any form, the more successful each will be. It would be great if each neighborhood had a spectrum of choices in learning opportunities. Sadly, the 'pack' mentality compels us to close our minds to the deficiencies of our host system and defend it as the only way, much as if it were a religion, and to the detriment of the children who can't (or won't) adjust.

    I will agree with you on one point, albeit partially: Children need to understand why they might need to learn a thing that doesn't particularly interest them. This is why hands-on activity should be the norm. When a person of any age has a task, and there is a tool available to make it easier, they will become keenly interested in acquiring that tool.

    The "Math Facts" are a good example of what I call 'shotgun learning'. (Some may more readily recognize the term "multiplication table" , though that title has been deprecated, apparently due to correctness.) Around fourth grade, all students, must know their 'math facts' through 12x12, with dire consequences if they fail. Then, and only then, do they learn to leverage these facts against more complex problems.

    It's as if they were junior Jedi's, and Yoda is repeatedly dunking them in the the math muck until they can recall all 144 facts.

    In the traditional form of rote memorization, the math facts are often remembered in the form of poetry, with the answer just being the end of a line .

    A more natural way to teach would be to pose the more complex problem at the outset and explain the process for solving it, then providing the student with a multiplication facts chart to use as a reference. The student will immediately begin to see the how referring to the chart will help solve the bigger problem more quickly. The student will begin to recognize familiar facts as they relate to the bigger problem, and will ultimately learn them organically, in less time, and in better context (numbers rather than words).

  50. secularism1

    obvious strengths may not be that obvious. kids also become interested in things they get good at. as for what they will or will not use, there's a bigger set of issues it raises. how would this choice for eg. to avoid math because you don't like it, affect your chances to compete in a labor market that places higher value on math than it does on social studies. moreover kids with advantages - wealthy, highly educated families - learn quickly what they need to succeed, and become successful. what about poorer, disadvantaged kids? will they not also make choices that reflect the lack of these same advantages? For equality in education, equal access to competencies should be the focus. Experimental radical learning should be directed towards critical thinking on core issues affecting the economic, social and ecological wellbeing of society.

  51. TJP

    @disqus_69kPfn3tvB:disqus I don't see how you can call the commenters grammar deplorable. I also don't believe there is need to attack, there are counterpoints, not pure criticism.

    Both comments have some good points. Children need free play, they also need some structure. The modeling is important as 'monkey see monkey do', and I don't believe the teacher was pretending, though perhaps embellishing how deeply inside the story he had become. Rote memorization is definitely not the best, though it works for some, but stress rarely aids learning. The current system needs to be thrown out, but there is a better way than the totally 'free school'. I also agree with his points on discussing problems between individuals.

  52. TJP

    It may have been too late for you to be able to convert to a 'free' style of education, especially if you only gave it one year. How many children get inspired to learn in conventional schooling?

  53. Leigh Atkins

    I don't know. I'm all for 'follow your natural talents' but I once hated maths - I didn't know my times tables & I resented being made to learn them, but once I did, I discovered a huge talent, love & thirst for maths which I'd never have chosen if my education choices had been left to my childish self.
    The same goes for tennis - hated being forced to learn this boring junk - 'wait, wait, I'll get the ball', but when my compulsory term was finished, I could serve better than anyone I knew & I LOVED it.
    No kid will choose this stuff & they'll miss out terribly for it. Nice ideal but it forgets to account for humanity's weaknesses - it's like communism, shame...

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