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Freedom to Learn (PDF)
Creating a Classroom Where Every Child Thrives
Disinterested students and behavioral problems are all too common in schools. Yet results show that behavior charts and other reward-and-punishment systems simply don't work. Teachers are burning out and students are failing. But what can be done?
The secret lies in a unique combination of behavioral science, neuropsychology, and group dynamics. When teachers get the classroom experience right, students want to succeed and achieve to their potential, while behavioral problems largely vanish.
For decades, it has been widely accepted that children have motivating needs including the need to avoid pain, a need for autonomy, and the need to belong. The authors harness these motivations into a method of interactions that increases cooperation, and in which children want to succeed and help others to thrive.
Packed with real classroom examples and practical guidance for using the methods, this guide gives teachers the tools to transform even difficult classrooms.
Start teaching for universal success in classroom management and academic accomplishments.
Dr. Art Willans holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in education from Emporia State University and a Ph.D. in Developmental and Child Psychology from the University of Kansas. He has taught in the fields of education, special education, psychology, and child development, and administered several programs including a shelter for abused and neglected children and residential homes for behaviorally disordered children. He operates a preschool/therapeutic preschool, where he has refined his revolutionary methods. Art and his wife live in Reno, NV, and during the summer can often be found hiking trails high above Lake Tahoe.
Cari Williams is a teacher with a Bachelor of Science in Education and Special Education K-12, and an endorsement in Early Childhood/Special Education from the University of Nevada, Reno. She met Dr. Willans when she interviewed for a position at his school and learned the basic methods in the book from him, while going on to make significant contributions to the methodology. Cari's professional experience includes serving as a Special Education Resource teacher for students from kindergarten through sixth grade, teaching Early Childhood Special Education, and currently teaching kindergarten. The concept for this book originated from her remarkable success in getting students to excel academically. Cari lives in Reno, NV with her husband and three children.
"I was hooked on the book on the first page of the preface. Many readers will have a similar reaction, recognizing their own school experiences as students and teachers and seeing the wisdom of teaching children with these methods. Despite decades of new ideas and approaches to education, it all comes down to this—that which makes the greatest difference in schools fulfilling their mission is the nature of the teacher-child interaction, moment by moment, as the days and years unfold. All teachers and teachers-in-training should read this book and implement its strategies. Their students would benefit greatly."
Dr. Stan Paine, former National Distinguished Principal and Oregon Elementary Principal of the Year
"Freedom to Learn is a methodology that will breathe the passion back into one of the most under appreciated professions. This book provides a comprehensive and flexible means of managing psychological and physical needs in children to motivate growth through effective learning. The much-needed ground work for a revolution of traditional classroom approaches that the children of coming generations deserve. A must read, must know, must teach."
Dr. Dustin Marsh, Psy.D.
"Educators at all levels are beginning to pay much more attention to social-emotional learning, and the search for effective methods in that arena leads to Willans and Williams' work. After reading and studying Freedom to Learn, educators will understand the vital importance of the connection students must feel with peers, their surroundings, and especially with their teacher, for learning to occur. To make the concepts actionable, readers are introduced to difference-making strategies, which can be put in place immediately. Freedom to Learn is not your typical approach, but how well has the typical approach been working for either individual educators or for the entire educational system in our nation? In striving to develop lifelong learners, Freedom to Learn puts the why and the how-to together, clearly documenting the need to reject temporary test score improvement as validation of educational success. It is not just another educational philosophy book to read, but instead, it is a "must read and must implement".
William J. Decker, Chief Administrator, Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency
"Freedom to Learn is one of those rare books which can be utilized as a training tool in the educational discipline. It holds the wisest, most reasonable, and compassionate treatment for every student. The authors exude passion as they provide practical strategies for educators, which will develop a trusting relationship with each student; affording all students' success. As an educator, counselor, private therapist and professor at the university level for more than forty years, I avidly recommend Freedom to Learn for every current educator as well as those working toward an educational career."
Karen M. Smith, M.Ed., Ed.S., National Certified School Counselor
"Freedom to Learn gripped me from the introduction all the way to the ending. This is a practical and useful book for seasoned teachers, beginning teachers, and students planning to become educators. Impressive, easy to read, practical, useful, creates a positive learning environment, and has data to support its effectiveness." -Marlene Andrews, retired Faculty Member, Special Education Department, University of Wisconsin Oshkos