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It was very much a team effort with over 15 staff giving up their time to be "guides from the side" on individual projects. Basically this meant they only helped if the students asked for it, which by all accounts, they did not! The 80 students involved aged were captivated by the experience of controlling their own learning and creating their own projects for the day. They worked solidly for six hours, cross-pollinating across different projects, ages and abilities where students organised their own breaks, without having to respond to the bells which normally signify the end of a lesson.

The students created some real high quality work including album covers, Manga art work, Jubilee cupcakes, a bird stand, a remote control car, designing a rocket, a video of the school's extra-curricular opportunities for prospective Year six students and finally a video of Innovation Day highlights.

A question I have since been asked is "were students engaged throughout the day? They were fully immersed in their projects, their learning was evident and the students enjoyed what they were doing. I think there were two major factors behind this:. Students designed their own learning experience. This meant they had autonomy over the project and their learning was authentic and closely connected to their interests.

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We had a public "presentation of learning" in the school hall at the end of the day with peers, teachers and the senior leadership team in attendance. I think this gave the students a "we must make this brilliant" attitude. Students were then asked for their open and honest feedback on their Innovation Day experience and one question in particular provided some real food for thought:. Has Innovation Day changed your opinion of how your learning should happen?

Here are some unedited responses from the students:. The challenge now of course is how do we make this type of learning an integral and sustainable part of the school's curriculum? Or as the New York-based School of One intriguingly puts it, how do we create the "mass customisation of student learning?

One potential solution is that on one school day a week students and teachers could drop their text books and whiteboard pens to collaborate with each other on projects that excite and create deep and passionate learning on a grand scale. With teachers under increasing pressure to cover and deliver content heavy syllabus to their students I think building in time for such learning would only enhance examination results, with students developing a genuine enthusiasm for learning which would transfer into their studies.

A worthwhile link here is to High Tech High and the Learning Futures joint creation of a project based learning guide to help any school or educator introduce such work into their classrooms.


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This is not the sole answer to transforming the student learning experience but I think it could be, along with other authentic learning practices, a vital tool in engaging young people in their education. He is in his fifth year of teaching and is also a keen rugby coach who is in charge of the school's first XV rugby team and is also the first team backs coach at Stockport RUFC in National Two North.

Do you have something you want to share with colleagues — a resource of your own and why it works well with your students, or perhaps a brilliant piece of good practice in teaching or whole school activity that you know about it? If so please get in touch. Her life is poisoned by anger and hatred, which she dare not express - the consequences for her would be disastrous. Freedom, she says, along with millions of others, just means letting people do everything they want. Freedom, for her and millions of others, means tearing the lash away from the overseer and using it to flog him to death.

But a world without lashes and overseers? At one school I heard part of a lively argument between some anti-war students and the black custodian - unschooled but eloquent. What he said, over and over again, was that in any human organization you have to have a boss. The president says we got to fight a war, no argument, we got to fight it. All this man asked or expected or even could imagine was that every so often he might be allowed to say whether he would like a different boss.

People who feel they have no freedom hate the people who have it, or act as if they had it or ought to have it. The thought is unbearable. Better get some chains on the other guy. Only a few slaves talk about getting free. The rest argue about who has the biggest house, the finest establishment, the richest and strongest master.

My team can lick your team!

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I once rode into New York from the airport with an angry cab driver. The mayor had just named a new chief of police, and he had brought him in from outside. What about all those guys who have been waiting in line? What did he have to go outside for? One result is that when some of us urge freedom for children or for learners, we find ourselves arguing about whether children should be allowed to do anything - torture animals or set buildings on fire.

Or people say, the idea of freedom for children is nonsense, children need limits. All such talk illustrates a great confusion about freedom, a confusion I have already touched in what I have said about structure. It implies that freedom means the absence of any limits or constraints, and that such a state is both desirable and possible; that the idea of freedom is opposed to the idea of limits, the idea of liberty opposed to the idea of law, so that you have to be for one or the other, that a free society or government and a tyranny are not different in kind but only in degree.

As there is no life without structure, so there is no life without constraints. We are all and always constrained, bound in, limited by a great many things, not least of all the fact that we are mortal.

Freedom Schools instructor Jeremy Smith talks about his impact on a student.

We are limited by our animal nature, by our model of reality, by our relations with other people, by our hopes and fears. It is useless to ask if life without constraints would be desirable. The question is too iffy even to think about - what is important is not whether there are limits but how much choice we have within those limits. So has a man outside. The man in the prison cell has some choice; he can stand, sit, or lie down; sleep, think, talk, or read; walk a few steps in this direction or that.

But the two men are not equally free or equally limited. It is playing with words, and bad play, to say that we are all prisoners, or that the man in the cell is free. There are two ways in which one person may limit the choices, the freedom of action, of another. He can say, You Must Do This.

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They are not the same, and are not equally restricting. I did not really see, though it is plain enough, until Ivan Illich pointed it out in a small seminar at MIT, that telling people what they may not do, if you are clear and specific, allows them much more freedom of choice and action than telling them what they must do. Proscriptions are better than prescriptions. Obviously - and I say it only to spare people the trouble of pointing it out - it is possible to say You Must Not in such a way that it destroys all freedom of action.


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  • Mother may I go out to swim? Yes, my darling daughter. Hang your clothes on a hickory limb. The idea of limits is not of itself opposed to the idea of freedom. The difference between a free community or society and a tyranny - this is another way of saying what I tried to say about structure - is not that one has limits while the other does not.


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    • It is that in a free society you can find out where the limits are; in a tyranny you can never be sure. It has no limits. You never can tell when it will move in on you.

      Give your students the freedom to learn

      The second is as important as the first. People in our Congress often introduce and too often pass laws which would make it a crime to, let us say, undermine the morale of the armed forces, or threaten the American Way of Life, or conspire to create a riot and so on.

      Such laws are tyrannical, in effect and intent. They do not tell us what we must not do.

      What are the implications for teaching philosophy in Saudi Arabia?

      What they tell us is that if we do any one of thousands of unspecified things, someone may later decide to call what we did a violation of the law. What we want of our laws instead is that they be as negative and as specific as possible. Here the seeming conflict between the idea of freedom and that of limits or law sometimes becomes real.

      But it would be foolish and mistaken to say merely the fewer laws, the better. What really counts is the amount of choice they leave us. Let me bring this closer to the world of children.