“In participatory, cooperative classrooms, the walls between teacher and students have a chance to become lower. Freire referred to the separation of teacher and students as the first obstacle to learning. To bring them together, teachers can identify themes and words important to students and ask them to be co-investigators of that material with the teacher.. . . the class hour itself is structured so that students reflect on meaningful questions and influence the direction of the syllabus” (29).
Shor discusses a class where he worked hard to create a “mutual learning community.” I feel strongly that students teach each other, almost as much as I have to offer them. By giving students a voice, they can help to drive the learning process in their classrooms, and as a result often make meaning of their work. As a result, I am trying something new with my honors class this quarter. We are reading October Sky. A requirement for the memoir is for the students to choose a significant quote and to write an explanation to go along with it. These quotes serve as the springboards for conversation in class the next day. By allowing students to discuss an work with the material that they feel is interesting or important to them, gives my students a chance to show each other what is ‘worthy’ of noting within the chapters. I have found myself putting aside my traditional lesson plans, and letting them really take the reigns of the class. I’m still struggling on how to assess them with this!