Mathematics for Teaching Teaching mathematics The Four Freedoms in the Classroom

The Four Freedoms in the Classroom

You will find that by providing the following freedoms in your classroom an improved learning environment will be created.

The Freedom to Make Mistakes

Help your students to approach the acquisition of knowledge with confidence. We all learn  through our mistakes. Listen to and observe your students and encourage them to explain or demonstrate why they THINK what they do. Support them whenever they genuinely participate in the learning process. If your class is afraid to make mistakes they will never reach their potential.

The Freedom to Ask Questions

Remember that the questions students ask not only help us to assess where they are, but assist us to evaluate our own ability to foster learning. A student, having made an honest effort, must be encouraged to seek help. (There is no value in each of us re-inventing the wheel!). The strategy we adopt then should depend upon the student and the question but should never make the child feel that the question should never have been asked.
classroom quote

The Freedom to Think for Oneself

Encourage your class to reach their own solutions. Do not stifle thought by providing polished algorithms before allowing each student the opportunity of experiencing the rewarding satisfaction of achieving a solution, unaided. Once, we know that we can achieve, we may also appreciate seeing how others reached the same goal. SET THE CHILDREN FREE TO THINK.

The Freedom to Choose their Own Method of Solution

Allow each student to select his own path and you will be helping her to realize the importance of thinking about the subject rather than trying to remember.

These freedoms help develop students skills and habits of mind.


5 thoughts on “The Four Freedoms in the Classroom”

  1. I wish I had found your site quite a while ago. I also hope like Jeff that I have always tried to teach in these ways as well!

  2. Thank you to both of you. That’s inspiring.
    @Jeff – I can tell you are a good teacher. And yes, trust is very important. I think that’s should the first in the list of teachers objectives:-)
    @ Salve – Now, I can give you an A+ for that:-)

  3. I experienced these “freedoms” as a learner in your Math class and now I understand that these are among the reasons I valued that chapter of my life as a student. It is indeed difficult to create this atmosphere of freedom due to the obstacles mentioned by Mr. Jeff Gaynor (plus other factors we owe to environment and cultural differences), but as a Math teacher, I know I should be able to extend to my students the same opportunity my own Math teacher has extended to me.

    Thank you for this post. And i love your blog! Such a wonderful, useful site for mathematics teachers! 🙂

  4. Yes, just so! This is always my intent – though it’s easier in theory than in practice. Obstacles – as a 6th grade teacher: 1) We are being pushed to push kids – too much, too fast; 2) Students have been trained in a much different mode, and it takes time to build not only skills, but trust; 3) We want to be validated by hearing the right answer, also feeling this will help the kids who aren’t ‘getting it.’

    The more I read of this site, the more you remind me of me. (But, surely, I’m just trying to flatter myself. 🙂

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