Why we shouldn’t hide decision-making from our students

This video shows my students solving a problem that I could have solved myself: allocating bedrooms for our 4 day, 3 night trip away to Kanchanaburi.

Why did I hand this problem over to them? Well… because they can solve it. But, there’s more:

  • Involving students in problem-solving gives students valuable opportunities to think and collaborate.
  • What may seem like routine and mundane problems to us could be much more important to students than we think.
  • This is time well-spent and many of the other things we do, or think we have to do, with students could well be time wasted as they are unlikely to grow from them.
  • What we can learn from observing our students in situations like this could be much more valuable than dozens of other forms of assessment.
  • What our students can learn from challenges like this about the way they interact and communicate with each other is incredibly powerful
  • As John Dewey said, we don’t learn just by having experiences, we learn by reflecting on our experiences. Giving students the chance to solve problems like this one is great. But discussing the process and sharing observations about behaviour afterwards is even better.
  • Involving students in day-to-day decision-making is empowering. It makes students feel like they have a part to play in their future, which they should.
  • When they “own” decisions they understand, respect and uphold them.

What decisions have you involved your students in recently?

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