Critical Questions for August

As I travel I write a great deal. My offices at home and work are filled with notepads where my ideas flow out, as are a pair of hard drives. Following are some of the critical questions I’ve written over the last month:

  • Can students be equal members of professional learning communities in schools?
  • Is the human capacity for learning unlimited?
  • What is the difference between “recycling knowledge” and “upcycling” knowledge?
  • If no one paints on an infinite canvas, what are the boundaries we don’t talk about?
  • What are the greatest educational practices that foster student voice and sustain the desire to learn throughout life?
  • How can the mechanisms that meaningfully involve young people evolve throughout a person’s lifetime to continuously, constantly and sustainably keep them involved?
  • Can role reversal activities be a useful learning tool for groups of youth and adult co-learners?
  • Can young people ever be truly disengaged in their own lives, or does living inherently require engagement of some sort?
  • Does engagement hinge on activities for young people, or the context in which they participate?
  • What are the significant “baby steps” a person/class/school can take towards meaningful student involvement?
  • What are the core differences between engaging historically disengaged students and engaging historically engaged students?
  • What are the core differences between meaningful involvement for young people in different community settings, i.e. schools, families, community organizations, government programs, etc.?
  • What is the apparent tension between focusing on meaningful student involvement in schools and fostering broad stakeholder involvement which includes, but is not exclusive to, students?
  • Why do teachers seek retribution against disobeying or nonconforming students?
  • When youth don’t speak up, is it okay for adults to speak for them?
  • Is there a false dichotomy between “youth voice” and “adult voice”?
  • Why isolate youth voice when youth are members of the larger community?
  • What are the effects of isolating youth voice and disallowing youth/adult interactions in critical conversations about place?
  • How can appropriate critical relationships between young people and adults be fostered?
  • Can equity exist without empathy?
  • Does every activity a young person participate in have to be “immediately” meaningful, or is there inherent value and “rightness” in activities where the meaningfulness does not become apparent until later dates?
  • Can students understand concepts, theories and practices better than adults?
  • Can students understand concepts when adults don’t understand them?
  • What is the outcome of students understanding concepts, etc., when adults don’t?

Feel free to answer any of these, or put me onto somewhere where I can learn more. Thanks.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

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