The Power of Choice - In and Out of the Classroom
Freedom and discipline. Independence and security. Choice and boundaries.
The adolescent years are a glorious zig-zag from left to right and high to low. While it can be confounding for some adults to watch, at Quadrat Academy, we recognize the value of the process and revel in it.
An airplane is said to be off the correct flight path for an estimated 90% of the time it is in motion, but it reaches the destination through micro corrections - and more often than not - arrives on time. Learning to make micro-adjustments to the course is an invaluable life skill, and like most “overnight success” stories, it can take years of honing and practice.
You will likely see your teenager agonizing over choices like which social causes to identify with, what to wear, or how to establish their own rules for ethical decision-making. The accumulation of choices yields a capacity to trust in self - something many people strive a lifetime to achieve.
Transitioning into adulthood is no minor undertaking. Creating opportunities for adolescents to make choices and change their minds goes a long way towards empowering them to be ready for the larger decisions that adulthood will require.
It’s the same in the classroom.
When observing the learning environment from a Montessori perspective, we see the students learning to follow their own internal compass. Few things will serve them better than an instinct about how to identify and pursue their path.
There are many ways that Quadrat offers choice in the classroom:
1) Choice of instructional format - if the objective is to study cells in biology, students can choose from different reading materials, videos, interviews, or projects.
2) Choice of assignments and how to synthesize and demonstrate the work based on what was learned - a blog, a presentation, an infographic, a documentary, or a technical write-up.
3) Choice of content - their thesis statements can be based on the topics they are passionate about (technology, social media, sports, music, entrepreneurship).
4) Choice of the topic - students can also create lessons based on a given subject and/or learning objective.
Feeling in control of a situation is essential during this stage of development. It is the only true way to build confidence. If we step in prematurely to “help” someone who is actually doing just fine with trying, failing, and considering another approach, we have ultimately co-opted their opportunity to experience success in the outcome. Quadrat instructors strive to support exploration and discovery rather than to be curators of resources and answers.
The beauty of the Montessori approach is opening a well-planned space for learners to discover their unique gifts, interests, and talents. As they apply themselves through choice, the most remarkable result is a dramatic increase in engagement, eagerness to participate, accountability, and ultimately pride in their work.
“Quality” is a nebulous standard when left in the hands of someone else, but it is the accelerant on a motivational fire when internalized. The power of choice in the learning environment is like a match to kindling at Quadrat Academy.
Catch fire with us.