National Writing Project

They Will Choose to Learn: An Alternative to the Lock-Step Classroom

By: Jon Appleby
Publication: The Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 2
Date: Spring 1999

Summary: Appleby provides a series of short case studies documenting his work with troubled learners to make the case that individualized learning provides a route to success for these students and, by implication, for all students.



I know I no longer believe that having twenty-five students read the same novel at the same time is fair or motivating for all students. If learning can be individualized with the kids who haven't succeeded, with the class-cutters and the disaffected, I am certain the same tools can bring out the best in truly heterogeneous settings. Many of my colleagues believe that I work with the most difficult students, but I don't find them difficult at all. In one way they are easier to teach than most students because they are painfully honest about themselves and their learning. What these students need is what I believe all students need and want: choice and a genuine sense of personal responsibility for the decision-making in their learning.

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