Several studies have demonstrated that when students are empowered with agency, they are more motivated to learn and therefore, they will do better in their studies, with more chances of success in all areas. In the International Baccalaureate programme, “agency” is considered the core and foundation for children’s learning process right from primary school.
A student who understands his or her values is strongly motivated in pursuing his or her goals. To form that sense of individuality, giving children agency is very important in the educational environment.
Students with better agency will always actively discuss topics that interest them. They often express their own views and have their own voices as well as have their own solutions to every problem. Agency in learning helps them expand their understanding, actively express their thoughts in class, know how to ask deeper questions and become more confident when communicating.
Students who are skilled in agency are able to express themselves well, to create, to make important decisions in learning and life and generally are able to navigate the challenges that come their way.
As for the goal of building agency for Tesla students, Mr. Tim Vanderpool – Director of Studies at Tesla Education commented: “Although teachers are still facilitators, coaches, and mentors, the agency is a shift away from more traditional practices and places a greater emphasis on self-direction. In addition to developing their knowledge and skills inherent to the curriculum, the goal is to develop leadership qualities by providing them with opportunities to be involved in decision-making and collaborative group dynamics”.
It means that at Tesla, students are respected when making decisions in their learning to actively participate in the learning and reflection process. In addition to students working with the teacher to set their own goals and help to choose activities, they are required to reflect on the entire process. “Not only, ‘what did you learn?”, but ‘how did you learn?” and ‘did you meet your goals?’” – Mr. Tim Vanderpool added.
Grade 3 students at Tesla experimented with rockets
In this lesson, they have chosen two different models for trials so they can analyze the results of each to decide which one is better. Rather than just having the teacher prescribe the experiment, the students were involved and wanted to practice the design process.
Another example in secondary school might be Model United Nations (MUN). Rather than study the interactions of governments or public policy, students collaborate together to address real-world problems and challenges in a mock United Nations meeting.
Model United Nations for Tesla Secondary students
Among the important roles of education is to guide students in developing their future careers. In the face of the constantly changing nature of the world and the volatility of the job market, equipping students with agency to gain confidence and independence in their studies and future careers is an increasingly important goal in the international educational environment.