What Are You Going to Do with All This Freedom?

This is part two of a series called “A Journey of Self-Directed Education” written from a student’s perspective. Each post will discuss a different aspect of Self-Directed Education and how it can improve a child’s life. Click here to see the full series!

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” – Aristotle

Wouldn’t it be beautiful to be in a space where a child’s imagination is just as appreciated as their academic intelligence? There is so much value in having the freedom to be different and think outside the box. In a self-directed environment, the creative side of a child is truly nurtured in the sense that they can pursue and bring into being all that they want. 

At a self-directed school each student has the space to get involved with only the things they feel most interested and inspired to do. This is placing the trust back in kids and giving them the freedom to figure things out in their own way and at their own pace, with healthy guidance and support available at all times.

As we know in traditional school, all students are required to be in certain classrooms at certain times, while also working on assignments and projects they may not feel inspired by. This then can create an environment where kids feel anxious or unstimulated. The beauty of Self-Directed Education is that every student’s day will look different depending on their specific interests and desires. One child may decide to read their chosen book all week and another child may decide they want to learn how to bake. This demonstrates the importance of individualized experiences that all children deserve to have.   

People often think that if kids are free to do whatever they want they won’t learn important life skills. However, at our school students are given numerous opportunities to learn these things. One example of this is that many students come together every day to schedule activities to do. An activity can be anything a student has a particular interest in and is created based on passion and natural curiosity. Students will either do their activity in the moment or pick a day and time and figure out if they need any materials or items to complete it. Once a schedule is put in place, there will be a group expectation for all participants to show up at that chosen time. These experiences allow students to learn skills like responsibility, time-management, planning and organizing, and many others. 

As well as creating activities, students can plan and budget field trips to go on together. If students want to organize an overnight field trip they will spend time researching the pricing on lodging, transportation, fun things to do during the field trip, and the overall cost of it and how much everyone will need to pay. Right there is a great opportunity for the kids to learn math and how to budget so they can have a successful trip. 

During this school year, a student implemented something called an “Idea Box.” This is where all kids can write down things they want to do and put it inside the box. Once per week, staff take all the ideas and write them down on a whiteboard. Students can sign up for any activities that they are interested in being a part of. Sometimes there are so many ideas that come from students that not all of them can get scheduled in one week. So any extras go back into the box until the next week when sign up reopens. 

Self-Directed Education is reopening this world of creativity that a child already has, and allowing their minds to run free with new thoughts and ideas. This honors and respects that each student brings something very different to the table and guides them to realize their true potential. 

Education is a very personal journey and one that looks different for everyone. Instead of the same outdated path that traditional school offers kids, in an environment like this, a student is given the room to personalize their educational experience and work towards the things they know will progress them in life. 

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