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  • Writer's pictureMihir Pathak

Conflict: How much freedom should we give to children?

Few weeks ago, we were debating on how much freedom the children should have at BeMe.

We looked around at different schools. In conventional schools, I think, freedom element is ZERO. Curriculum defines what teachers must teach and students must learn. Period.

Structure in conventional schools: Is a set of physical classes led by teachers, compulsorily attended students. In Summerhill school, it looks like there is freedom and it is DEFINED. School has classes but students need not attend. Structure in Summerhill school: Physical classes exist. Teachers take classes. But students decide whether to be in class or outside.

In Sudbury Valley School, there is COMPLETE freedom. There are no doubts – it is clearly explained in their books. Parents just need to understand this. If they are convinced they put children in this school and they know what to expect and what NOT to expect. Structure in Sudbury Valley School: There is campus, there are rooms, there are resources and staff. Children decide what to do.

In these learning environments, how much does a child learn? What are the side effects?

We also looked at concepts in psychology.

There is a concept called: the theory of comfort zone.

In the context of learning, this theory suggests: While are in our comfort zone, we hardly learn anything new. While we are in challenging zone, we learn the most. From my experience at Landmark Education (participation, volunteering), this theory seems to be true for adults. May be it is because of our upbringing. However I am not sure if this theory is applicable to children. If it were applicable to children, then how do we explain Sudbury model? Note that the Sudbury model has been in existence for more than 45 years now.

Given the above, how do we decide how much freedom we give to children?

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