There is no doubt that the concept of student agency is out there in the education community. However, it seems that many of the conversations seem to be mainly floating around the pedagogical level, with the main focus being “How do we do it?”
I think if we, as an education community, remain only on the pedagogical level, then we’re missing the point.
Conversations about student agency need to dive down below the pedagogical to the philosophical and also political level. As educators we must be critically thinking about and engaging in conversations centering around: power, compliance, control, democracy, freedom and children’s rights. Specifically what those concepts look like… or don’t look like… or should look like… in schools and classrooms.
Yet, this is quite hard hard to do because many of us are products of the education system ourselves. Which means we have 20, 30, 40+ years in the current paradigm – both as students and then as educators. This can make it very difficult for us to stand outside the system in order to objectively and critically analyze it.
So I think it’s crucial that we continue to provoke our own thinking, and each other’s thinking, about these concepts. And one of the best ways we can do that is by choosing to expose ourselves and each other to provocations. Different stimuli that make us confront our own thoughts and feelings and presumptions and biases. Things that make us not only think, but also feel. Things that provoke our emotions, as a way to notice, explore and understand our own thinking.
Over the past year I’ve been slowly collecting an array of provocative quotes, tweets, images, cartoons and sketchnotes that I’ve come across that have provoked my own thinking and emotions. I’ve begun to share them in the workshops I lead about student agency to help other educators confront their thinking and feelings too. So I thought, why not share them here as well!?
So here is my personal collection of student agency provocations to get us, as a larger education community, feeling… thinking… discussing… not just about the “how” of student agency, but more importantly about the “why”.
(Links to more provocations)
Agency and the rise of “new power” (article)
7 Sins of our Forced Education System (article)
The role agency plays in happy children (article)
The case for the self-driven child (book review/interview with author)
Why school is not ready for us (Tedx Talk)
What student agency provocations would you add to the collection?
What has helped provoke your thinking about power, compliance, control, freedom and children’s rights?