The Five Freedoms Project

Adjustment (or, Revise and Renew)

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In the final stage of the learning cycle, we learn from our own efforts by observing what works, what doesn’t, and what we must adjust so we can effectively integrate our learning into our engagement with the world around us.

Since the days of Dewey, educational theorists have argued we create new actions — and adopt new behaviors — by reflecting on our past experiences. Learning based on the past, however, only works when the past is a good guide to the future. It leaves us blind to profound shifts when whole new forces shaping change arise.

How can we shift our learning to allow new strategies — and voices — to define a different, more equitable future? In short, how do we help educators and young people make the necessary adjustments to use their voices effectively, and with integrity, in the 21st century?

To help young people fully develop their voices, educators must provide opportunities for students to adjust, revise and renew their approaches — and we must be open to the new, more future-oriented ideas that emerge.

It is not enough simply to create a forum for young people to speak. We must give our students — and each other — thoughtful feedback, establish useful, flexible structures, and help young people generate a clearer alignment between their internal passions and their external actions. When we do so, we help ensure that the next generation of adults is equipped with the skills and self-confidence they need to be seen and heard — both in their daily lives and in our democracy — in meaningful, responsible ways.