Autonomy in the classroom does not necessarily mean students roaming at will between workstations, working in groups, and self-directing their own learning. Autonomy, more essentially, is seen in the student who attends to her work with a personally chosen sense of purpose and self-agency. (In this context, we refer to agency as the power taken by an individual to make "decisions regarding their preferences and actions.") Although not obvious, the direct instruction methodology that guides the Windward classroom is fundamental to the development of autonomous learners.The Windward School costs ... at least $40K/year, I think. Somewhere in there.
Every direct instruction lesson begins with three elements:
- the presentation of an aim for the lesson;
- the review of prior lessons, clarifying how the current instruction connects to knowledge and skills already learned; and
- a motivation that gives students an anticipation and incentive for the day's lesson.
By ensuring that every lesson has a purpose, builds upon prior knowledge, and engages the motivation of the students, teachers invoke a volitional engagement of students with the curriculum. Students attend to their work and stick to their work with grit, not as a result of fear or dread or the promise of extrinsic rewards, but because they discern and embrace the purpose of their learning.
It's incredible, when you think about it.
The only children in Westchester County who can count on receiving direct instruction every day at school are kids who a) have a learning disability and b) have $40K to spend on tuition at The Windward School.