For years, (possibly since grade 5) I have been exploring this idea I have about a teaching method. Way back in grade five, an inspirational teacher had an idea to give us freedom in the classroom and control over our education. Almost every subject involved independent learning, going at our own pace, and as much choice over each assignment as he could give us. I could whiz through the math if it was easy, and slow down over a project that needed more time. I was interested and vested in each project, which brought out my best work. I often went over and above because I genuine interest in what I was doing.
Grade five through grade eight continued in this way. As it turned out, however, this was more to do with being in a class outside of the regular stream (gifted.) Over the years, the more I considered my "special education," the more I realized just how many kids might benefit from this type of classroom.
I eventually came to the decision to go to teacher's college and become a certified teacher. In preparation, I began supply teaching and volunteering. Getting into so many different classes began to give me a sense of what types of classrooms and teaching methods were out there. The more I taught, the more I realized how unique my vision was. There were a handful of teachers who verged on the idea, but no one was running their classroom the way I wanted to.
Then, finally, I hit the jackpot. I came into a grade five classroom (not a coincidence, I think) and found the teacher running a project based curriculum. He used technology to provide lessons and videos to convey information (instead of laminated cards and library books like I used 25 years ago.) But the majority of each day was for the students to use as they wished. Each term they were given a list of the projects and subjects which had to be completed. Proposals are completed to make sure the tasks meet grade requirements, but there is so much latitude that there are many ways each student can personalize the project.
The teacher and I met at lunch and the exchange of ideas was exhilarating. It turns out this is a pilot project for him, an idea that he wasn't sure would work but was passionate about enough to risk falling flat on his face if it failed. It hasn't. All but one student have thrived on the method.
I find out next week if I'm accepted to teacher's college, but I'm so disillusioned with the idea of being relegated to one of the hundreds of classroom's I've seen. What I really want is to work with this teacher to develop and hone this method, and then see if we can inspire other teachers to use it also. Perhaps it can be adapted for younger students (as it stands I wouldn't use it below age 10.)
I have to remind myself that there is a time and a season for everything, and that even if I have to spend two years learning in other ways, I will have many years to come back to something like this.