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Can students find their passions through independent study?

Session 1
Bryan Lakatos — www.mvschool.com, www.dtk12chat.com

What if you told a group of high school students, “You can study anything you want this semester. What’s it gonna be?” Would you get excited smiles? Blank stares? A little of both? How would you guide that group of folks to explore their passions in an academic setting, focusing on the growth and discovery instead of on acquiring someone else’s content?

By their freshman year, the majority of students in the US have been trained to define academic success as being sufficiently engaged in what others have told them to do. While most of this has been identified as developmentally appropriate education (though the jury’s still out on that, depending on whom you ask), schools like SLA have proven that high school is a powerful time to begin empowering students to explore their own interests.

Rather than asking young people what they want to be when they grow up, The Miami Valley School in Dayton, OH is asking high school students what they want to be NOW. We are currently in the third year of an experimental course we’re calling “The Learning Project” that has aspects of traditional group-taught courses and independent study. Come hear what we’ve learned so far about the differences between engagement and empowerment, what our students have had the most difficulty with, and what processes we’ve built to support this work.

Conversational Practice

We’ll include time throughout for us all to discuss ideas of academic ownership, engagement, and empowerment. At the end, after we get a definition of student “empowerment,” we’ll share stories of successes and not-yet-successes when empowering students. Also, if at all possible given bandwidth and time, we’ll set up a live vidchat with Learning Project students so that participants can find out what it’s like to be a student in such an environment directly from the source.

Conversation Links

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Presenter Profiles

Bryan Lakatos
Bryan Lakatos
The Miami Valley School


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