The biggest snow storm in decades had hit the village. Although the school was buried in snow, the superintendent insisted that huskies always make it through the snow. Mr. Bell knew this slogan was not true. His students were not dogs (although he often complained about them acting like dogs), and he knew that many students would not show up. He waited at his desk for the few high-schoolers who were able to dig themselves out of their houses. The young faces of Jonah Lazarus, Alex Neill, and Eric Hirsch appeared in the doorway, not surprised by the empty classroom, but eager for the day’s discussion. When the boys had greeted Mr. Bell and taken their seats, Mr. Bell asked, “Based on our recent educational discussions what should and/or can be changed about the educational system and this English classroom?” After a moment’s hesitation the boys began to talk:
Alex: Students need to be free and happy.
Eric: Yes, I think we can agree that education should be for the benefit of the students and their own freedom and happiness.
Jonah: I think there should be no grades, no homework, no memorizing. It takes away from the freedom.
Eric: No one would do anything without grades.
Jonah: But using grades to force students to do work is taking away their freedom.
Alex: Yeah, and can we agree that students learn much better when they are free?
Eric: But the education comes first. Teachers have to give us that freedom through their methods of educating.
... using it. Despite the many positive view points of students having complete freedom of speech in school, it can be hardly argue ... whether support or against the idea of full protection of students for freedom of speech have a general point in that both ... issue then it is possible to make a compromise of student’s freedom of speech in school. The compromise of the issue ...
Jonah: But it’s that attitude, as if freedom is something that has to be given to students before they can be free, that takes away from the learning process. Because when we still see teachers as having the power to either give us freedom or take it away, we cannot truly be free and happy, independent from the teacher.
Alex: So do we have freedom in this class?
Jonah: I think to an extent, but because this class is still part of the system, where we have grades and are forced to take this course, we don’t have freedom in that sense.
Alex: For complete freedom we need something isolated from this world with a new setup that looks at students as equal.
Eric: [rolls eyes] Not this crazy idea of yours again.
Alex: Oh, I thought you were snoring too loud to hear me yesterday when I explained this so-called “crazy” idea of mine.
Eric: I’m a little more skilled than you think, and your idea would never work in the real world.
Jonah: We do have to look at the way the system is set up currently if we’re actually trying to think of realistic changes. We have to consider how much we’ve been brainwashed to follow the system and do things just for the grade. I kind of agree with Eric that at this point, nothing would get accomplished if the whole system were removed. We have to recognize that before we can move on.
Alex: Well yeah, and for my idea for the ideal school, it would work best with a much smaller student body that’s far away from and detached from the rest of society. It isn’t as successful to give a student freedom at school while when he or she goes home, they are oppressed by their parents. It has to be a full commitment, and it’s true that right now, that sort of commitment isn’t possible for all public schools.
Jonah: Also, when students are oppressed in some cases, but free at school, they will often take advantage of the freedom they gain at school and then learning will be halted.
Eric: What stops students from taking advantage of the freedom at your boarding school? How do you know everyone really wants to learn the things you would be teaching?
... bus. He has a 8: 15 basketball practice at Freedom Hill School. ... 00 am the next morning. ) Eric may go home with a friend after school. SATURDAY JAN. 29 (HAPPY BIRTHDAY ... Katie will come home from school at 3: 25. She has no activities. Eric will be on the late ... birthday gifts... but they will be accepting elementary school age books for donation to the Community of ...
Alex: People naturally want to be free. If all someone knows is oppression, then when they have freedom they will “run like the cows,” as an old friend of mine once used to say [winks at Mr. Bell]. But if all someone knows is freedom, they will naturally be happy and they won’t be worried about the oppression and they can focus on the learning. And that is why I allow the students to pick their classes: so they can be doing something they enjoy. If they were forced to take classes they didn’t enjoy then they wouldn’t be free.
Eric: We can’t let the students pick their own classes ‘cause they don’t know what’s good for them.
Jonah: But do you know what’s good for them? ‘Cause I know I have a better sense of what’s good for me than you do. And it’s a paradox that you, as a student, think that students wouldn’t know what’s good for them. Because then you don’t know what you’re talking about either. Therefore, students could know what’s good for them, but then that would mean that you would also know, but you were just saying that you don’t know and you get the point.
Eric: [silent, thinking hard, angry about contradiction]
Alex: [*twinkle*] And I know you guys think that my ideal school is this fantasy dream land-
Eric: More of a nightmare
Alex: -but I think that it really isn’t all that far off of what is really possible for public schools. We can’t go all the way, at least at this point, with the schools in America, but we can certainly use some of the basic ideas.
Jonah: So if we look at this class . . .Mr. Bell takes an emphasis off the grades, telling us not to behave like dogs, which is a start because it should be about the learning and not this arbitrary letter.
Alex: But when he’s still standing up there, telling us down here, what we should or shouldn’t focus on, does that not make him still in power? And if we follow his orders, regardless of the motivation, how are we free?
Jonah: Well it depends if it is still our choice of whether or not we listen. I think when the choice is taken away, that’s when the freedom is also lost. And ultimately we still do not have a choice because the grade is still there, but Mr. Bell is trying to work within the system, which is what we need to figure out how to do as well.
Alex: The relationship between the teacher and the student has to be changed. The teacher can’t just feed us information, and Mr. Bell has helped us to think critically about things and not just memorize things.
... understand the lesson easily. Related to the separating class, most of the students feel good about it but they prefer to be in ... from us in many aspects. By involved in join class students will learn to socialize with other and respect the diversity ... Lynn. (1983). An organization of learning style theory and constructs. ERIC Document, 235, 185. Felder, (1996); University of Illinois at Urbana ...
Eric: But students need to have specific knowledge to survive in the real world and that involves memorization.
Jonah: No, it doesn’t. The way that it is taught can’t just be banking. Teaching someone specific facts and having them memorize these specific facts doesn’t truly give them an understanding of what they’re learning or help them enter the real world. Things have to be related to the real world and be put in context with everything else.
Eric: So how does this English class relate to the real world?
Jonah: Well, it’s making us think critically about things right now.
Alex: This freedom of thought has to come from an elimination of the teacher being completely in charge and telling us to do things and expecting us to blindly listen.
Eric: I still disagree.
Jonah: In this class, do you not think we are benefitting from this and many other conversations? No facts can replace the benefits of this dialogue-
The conversation was interrupted by a knock at the door. Alfie Kohn stood there, covered in snow, with a pass in his trembling fingers.