31 October 2007

Thoughts on a Classroom Discussion

I had a talk with some students – and I think they’re pretty average students – about the meaning of the word “freedom.” We had some time at the end of class, and it seemed like a good, educational time filler. When asked what freedom means, the initial answer was something like, “being able to do whatever you want.” It was expected (though not universal).

Anyway, we then had a little talk about what anarchy might really be like, if it were sustainable. The flow of the conversation from the idea of freedom to that of anarchy was natural. I make a great effort to not direct discussions like this too much. Once on the idea of anarchy – or what I posed to them as completely unbridled personal freedom – was fleshed out a little, I think they had a better idea of freedom and responsibility. The nice thing is, I didn’t have to say much at all. The students got it, mostly by themselves.

Now, I understand that they can’t always live up to the standards of behavior they are able to discuss in class. They’re not there yet. But since they can talk about ideas like freedom and responsibility, and do so quite well, then they can certainly be held accountable for their actions with regard to them.

An interesting concept, that: teach, discuss, hold accountable for the material.

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