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Students voice and agency

Updated: Oct 17, 2020

Providing students with voice, agency and empowerment is a hot topic. But what does it mean? And how can we go about it in a meaningful way?

It all starts and ends with our mindset, way of thinking and approach to learning.

Looking at the history of schools, the common-school movement paralleled the industrialisation of American cities. As such, public schools were used to transform children into complacent workers.

It meant having an authoritative teacher in the classroom who pass on knowledge, without providing students with opportunities to express themselves, be heard and influence their learning. This is a teacher centred approach, where the teacher is controlling the process, content and path for the students.

Thankfully, things are changing.

Project based learning ideas, students voice and agency, creative thinking, creative problem solving

In order to create an environment which encourages students to bring their own voice, to feel they have agency and to empower them to drive change, we need to start by shifting our thinking from teaching to facilitating.

Instead of loading students with data, we need to enable them to discover and explore on their own. As facilitators in the classroom, we need to guide them through the process and let the students discover the content and the path they are taking.

Glittering Minds approach to learning is a student-centred learning.

We let go of the need to control everything that happens in the classroom. We allow students free thinking and ideas and comfortable with letting them explore different (and sometimes crazy) paths. This learning approach provides students with voice, agency and empower them to drive change.

One of our projects this year was “How might we design suitable school uniform?” with year 4 students.

The students led the exploration phase and extracted meaningful insights from the information they gathered. They used their insights to come up with different ideas for school uniform items and then created prototypes.

Because of this project, the principal of this school added an item the students designed to the school uniform, empowering the students to drive change.

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