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Simon Youd

What do we Allow in our Classrooms?

3 min read

A.J. Juliani is an educational change thinker, reformer and writer that always challenges me with his writing and thinking. AJ and his partner in crime, and podcasting, John Spencer often  talked about knowledge bombs being dropped in their podcast classroom questions. In AJ’s article Creating the Conditions for Innovative Teaching and Learning he talked about the PLASMA framework for how to be innovative and intentional in education change.


Picture from article, link



   The allow is for what do we allow to happen in our classroom to promote change and innovation. The less control we try to have and maintain the further the boundaries can be pushed by those who have a variety of ideas. This is what gave me the open mouth thought, what could we allow. Then I hung my head in shame at what I thought next. Everything bad that has happened in my class and classroom is because I allowed it.

   The curriculum is only crowded if I allow it to be. Teaching to the test will only happen if I allow it. Teacher centred, compliance controlled classrooms only happen if I make it so. What have I allowed to happen in my classrooms that has deprived students of opportunities that I should have given them?

The Challenge

The challenge then is what is going to be allowed to happen in the classroom? How can innovation be driven by the teacher getting out of the way and letting students take control. We still need to guide and assist, but as mentors and coaches, not as the team captain.


If we don’t allow for inquiry, choice, collaboration, digital tools, failure…then usually only the people in charge are allowed to have ideas.”

The Curriculum Problem

   This is one that I have when teaching math and science. There is knowledge that you see as being necessary, although that may be challenged by many as to who relevant and necessary it is. Might this be achieved by setting some guidelines and framework for what knowledge is to be covered, but then leaving students to choose how they wish to proceed with the learning.

   One way I have seen this covered is by making the outline of what topics need to be covered in the curriculum. But then students created what was to be covered as the learning. This was done by them creating an iTunesU course and publishing the materials there as a subject plan for others to use if they so desired.

What Will I Allow?


   Once you find a problem or challenge, to ignore it moving forward is to willfully make bad decisions. The change I want to see in education must be the change that I allow. Less me, more students. Students actively participating in learning, in creating their path forward. Education is done to students, learning is done with them. What will you allow your students to do and achieve? Let’s not hold them back, but push them forward.