Cultivating Choice and Critical Thought in Students
Allan Hardy, Principal
While critical of schools that force students to conform to prescribed adult values, Kohn’s ideal school teaches students how to question authority, gives them some input on school decisions and builds elements of choice into the curriculum. At Greenwood, we strive to find the right balance between guiding students and allowing them to act independently.
The high level of student engagement shown in our recent student survey indicates that our students have numerous opportunities to think and act independently. Close to 90 percent of students feel they can be creative when completing assignments and projects. The design of our blended learning courses offers students a high degree of control with the pace of course content, while the Bring Your Own Device program provides students input on what type of technological device they can use to facilitate their learning.
One of the ways we guide students with the process of decision making is through my ongoing dialogue with our Head Boy and Girl. These two individuals chair the weekly Student Council meetings and bring relevant issues to their weekly meeting with me. Over the years, our discussions have led to a number of changes in such things as the daily schedule, the school uniform and food choices in the school café. By seeing some of their ideas reach fruition, our students learn they have a voice in how the school is managed.
Ultimately, Kohn believes schools should allow students to be “reflective rebels” by creating opportunities for them to question authority thoughtfully and respectfully. The most recent edition of our school paper, The Village Green, indicates that this mindset exists at Greenwood. One article examined the impact of our expansion project on the student experience, while a second questioned the school’s commitment to social diversity. Both opinions raised important issues that the school needs to consider as we move forward.