From: Eugene Matusov
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Date: 06 Oct 1996
You wrote, "I really enjoyed the video on Weds. I liked how the learning environment was so unstructured. I'm coming to believe more and more that too much structure in a learning environment is really a weakness."
That is a very good observation. I only wonder if La Classa Magica is really unstructured environment or it has a much more hidden structure? Or maybe the structure is flexible and not rigid as in many traditional mainstream schools? Or maybe the structure is collaborative involving kids and adults? In brief, I felt that there was structure but it was different than in traditional schools. The question for me is to how to characterize this type of structure. For me, the issue of structure is more than just presence or absence, more or less but direction and responsibility. What do you think?
" As people were talking about in class, it seems like trying to maintain control over kids is counter-productive. I know that I've wasted a lot of time trying to make kids do things they don't want to do. Do you all think it's always better to give kids a choice about what and when they will participate? Is it ever beneficial to force, with threat of some sort of mild punishment, kids to do some activity?"
Great questions. Again, for they are question of the desired direction of learning and sharing responsibility between adults and children. For me (and I don't want to impose it for others), it is important to share my concern with children whatever disciplinary concern I gave and help the child to learn how to control him or herself. In this regard, I think yes, efforts to establish and maintain control over kids is counter-productive for the purpose of nurturing the control in children. The answer so much depends of the teacher's educational worldviews and philosophy that I don't believe they can be separated.
I also believe in choice but it should be guided choice. As to punishment, I believed in punishment as a shared pain that is embedded in whatever meaninful activity people are doing together.