When I met with the university department leader to discuss my adjunct position as an instructor of elementary math curriculum, she noted that I had academic freedom with regard to what I taught and how I taught it. That was music to my ears. Yet, I did want to hear about the program in the past, the leader's recommendations, and the expectations. It's best to work with each other when teaching and learning to help navigate all students towards skills, concepts, knowledge, and experience that are rich, deep, meaningful, and forward moving.
At the elementary school, academic freedom is less celebrated, and I'm wondering about this. When is academic freedom positive and beneficial and when is academic freedom not as positive? In general, I'm a fan of a shared leadership model, a model where academic teachers work together to determine the best strategies, process, and action for teaching children well. I am a firm believer that none of us on the learning team know it all or have all the answers, but together, students, teachers, families, leaders and community members can come together with good process to research, create, implement, analyze, revise, and celebrate terrific learning opportunities for all.
How is academic freedom celebrated and forwarded in your teaching/learning organization? When is academic freedom looked down upon? How do we find that right balance with regard to academic freedom? Where do you stand on the academic freedom continuum? I'll be thinking about this topic in the days and weeks ahead as I plan for my dynamic team of fifth graders and wonderful teacher candidates too. Onward.