Independent Learning: Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose

Daniel Pink shares his research on autonomy here. With this, he provides us with a valuable insight into the ways in which business can get the most of out their employees by (a) engaging them (b) offering them freedom and (c) enabling them to get really good at stuff. On watching this talk, I wondered if it was possible to consider giving students the 20% time that Pink talks about.

I have since discovered, thanks to the power of Twitter, that many teachers are already testing out the 20% rule in their classrooms.

Rather than offering total freedom and choice in all things, which terrifies every single control freak amongst us (and let’s face, it, that’s most teachers!), perhaps we can divide our learning ‘pie’ up into: 

(a) Task

(b) Time

(c) Group

(d) Process

And offer choices to our students in one or two of these areas within a project or a lesson.

Alternatively, we could simply ask them to plan what they would do if they were given 20% of curriculum time within a subject or topic. Once they’ve planned what they are going to do, then it’s up to them to (a) deliver and (b) reflect on how well it went so they can make more of it next time.

It also makes me wonder what we would choose to do if we were given 20% of our working week to learn and develop something of our own choosing, regardless of its connection to the curriculum. Maybe we’d reveal a new cohort of talented musicians in the maths department or water-colour painters in the PE faculty? When we ask about the learning capacities of our students, do we get the time to reflect upon and ask the same questions of ourselves? Would this help us model learning to our students, I wonder?  

Now that would surely be the mark of a genuinely learning school.

And here’s the 10 minute RSA Animate version of Daniel Pink’s message…I use these to show what I mean by ‘now draw your learning’…not intimidating at all!

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