Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Libertarian Schooling and SDT

It is quite clear that traditional schools that focus on extrinsic motivators like grades to drive student learning ,  and rewards, consequences and punishments to deal with discipline problems and get compliance do not promote the autonomy, competence and relatedness needs of students. The transmission model or DI – direct instruction of teaching does not focus on students ' constructing ' their own knowledge and making meaning of their world as constructivist education does, ignoring the need for autonomy in learning.

The question is what about ' homeschoolers', ' un-schoolers,' non-traditional schools that have a libertarian bent.? Are they consistent with SDT principles?

Historically, education has been the responsibility of parents and kids were educated in a mainly informal way. Kids, from their early teens either worked in the home or with their parents or became apprentices and learned vocations while on the job. Kids that were academically gifted became scholars. More than 2000 years ago in Israel ,compulsory elementary schooling was introduced for kids from the ages of 6-7 in order to compensate for parents and address the more complex educational needs of kids. This means that schools are now partners with parents. Parents can focus more on informal learning.  See the kitchen as a classroom  -

Homeschooling is an alternative for a very small minority in the community. Homeschooling communities provide lots of opportunities for constructivist and cooperative learning and lots of social activities too. Some challenging kids do much better in this environment than in school.

Public education is the mainstream and people who are concerned with all children should not being doing their own thing , creating alternatives , but trying to become mainstream.

The alternatives have in common a distaste for traditional education , but what do they have in common?

Alfie Kohn finds a lot about ' libertarian ' education inadequate . I also think that  kids needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness are not addressed  adequately.

Alfie Kohn talks about the '  Trouble of Pure Freedom '  and the focus on the individual kid's learning , and  the lack of community – cooperative learning, that characterize libertarian schooling.

The libertarian worldview sees adult involvement as an authoritarian  restriction of personal autonomy. Total autonomy is not developmentally appropriate . Kids need guidance and many of them need structure at the same time that they need the opportunity to learn how to make good decisions.   –

In an essay on student choice , and the need to sometimes limit student choice.
AK says   ……….. on closer examination, however, it seems clear that what must occasionally be restricted is not choice but individual choice. (It is an interesting reflection on our culture that we tend to see these as interchangeable.)-  to affirm the importance of community does not at all compromise the right to make decisions, per se, or the importance of involving everyone in a class or school in such a process. In fact, we might say that it is the integration of these two values, community and choice, that defines democracy

We see from the above that a libertarian approach comprises ' competence ' , autonomy ' and relatedness.

Competence is compromised by the lack of structure , teacher stimulation and guidance, cooperative learning, collaborative problem solving, social and moral learning within a community.

Autonomy is compromised by limiting choice – one has more possibilities within a community - . True autonomy is the ability  to be self determined within the context of a community and other peoples' choices.

Relatedness is compromised by the lack of cooperative learning within a caring community, and a lack of teacher involvement.


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