September 8, 2009

A Learner’s Bill of Rights

Back in Brookline, missing the hell out of the beach, and the kids started 11th grade today. President Obama gave a great speech to the nation’s school children. Everybody’s got homework already.  I hope they work hard and find much of their study meaningful.  Is that too much to ask?

Along those lines, I share with you “A Learner’s Bill of Rights,” a brilliantly articulated manifesto that Kirsten Olson uses to begin her new book, Wounded by School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up to Old School Culture (New York and London: Teachers College Press, 2009). Olson’s ideas and feelings are passionate and ring true.  If kids have the wobbles in these early days of the school year, share with them the following:

A Learner’s Bill of Rights


Kirsten Olson

Every learner has the right to know why they are learning something, why it is important now, or may be important to them someday.

Every learner has the right to engage in questioning or interrogating the idea of “importance” above.

Every learner has the right to be confused and to express this confusion openly, honestly, and without shame.

Every learner has the right to multiple paths to understanding a concept, an idea, a set of facts, or a series of constructs.

Every learner has a right to understand his or her own mind, brain wiring, and intellectual inclinations as completely as possible.

Every learner has the right to interrogate and question the means through which his or her learning is assessed.

Every learner is entitled to some privacy in their imagination and thoughts.

Every learner has the right to take their imagining and thinking seriously.