People often ask, why is agency so important in authentic learning? In traditional school environments, we hear learners lament that “this is too hard, just tell me what to do,” and challenging learning is frequently avoided. However, learning can be joyful even when a struggle is involved when the learner chooses the challenge. Looking at Theo’s face as he works through the challenge of learning to play chess, we can see his anticipation when he moves his first piece in the game. During the game, his face changes to a look of intense concentration, coupled with a bit of frustration, as he contemplates a move. The “Yes, I did it” expression at the end of the game shows his mastery of the game and joy in learning. Interestingly, at no time did he complain that the game was too hard or want to quit. When a learner has the agency to choose the learning, he often experiences the same range of emotions involved in learning in traditional schools. However, when he has a choice and a voice, he develops the grit to follow through and owns the learning experience. How would learning shift for the children in your life if they had more agency in their learning every day?
Why is agency so important?