Educational anarchist doing all I can to de-school students.
alanthefriesen has written 12 posts for Cooperative Catalyst

I have a cunning plan…

Next year, we’re planning on implementing a new SIS and gradebook at our school. Groundbreaking news, eh? The kicker is that our new gradebook supports individual assignments for individual students. Think about that for a second. For the first time, I can build assignments that are specific to an individual student, and not have to … Continue reading


Counting, measurement, and the Fraser Report

This year’s Fraser Institute report is in. For those of you unaware of what this means, the Fraser Institute is a private Canadian “think-tank” that concerns itself with education and statistics, attempting to create “a free and prosperous world through choice, markets, and responsibility” by ranking Canadian schools. Every year, the Fraser Institute releases “report … Continue reading

Zero? No zero? How about just getting rid of grades altogether?

There’s a raging debate in my province about zero-grading policies. A teacher bucked his school division’s orders to not give out zeroes, was suspended because of his defiance, and now the people of Alberta are rallying around him as a folk hero. I’ve been watching this debate with something close to bemusement. Educational research is … Continue reading

Project 10,000: The White Paper

In my last post, I talked about an idea for implementing student choice and project-based learning in a traditional school with few resources required. I’ve finished writing a white paper detailing exactly why this would work and a model for implementation. The entire paper is seven pages long, so I’m not going to post the … Continue reading

Project 10,000

Last night I read the incredible manifesto “Stop Stealing Dreams: What Is School For?” by Seth Godin. Pat Farenga discussed the article from a homeschooling perspective back in March, but I’ve been thinking all day about how we could put into practice the ideas that Godin discusses in the manifesto. Over the last year I’ve … Continue reading

The learning trough: the five-month update and metaphors related to animals

It’s the end of a semester, and the end of an experiment in my classroom that I’ve detailed in past posts. A short recap: I gave students the freedom to choose what they wanted to study (from a broad list of about 35 different topics, more choice than I had during any given semester while … Continue reading

“The tyranny of choice is still tyranny” and other fun thoughts on a cold November morn

Perhaps it’s just because it’s November, but I’ve felt extremely discouraged about my own teaching methodology and the state of education in general as of late. In my own senior high English classes, I’ve been practicing a model of freedom for my students: they pick what they want to study, how they want to respond … Continue reading

Students or writers?

It occurred to me last night that I conducted a grading experiment of sorts last year without intending to do so. I had two sections of senior English students. With one group, I gave them traditional assignments with traditional due dates and graded them using a traditional rubric. I also gave them the opportunity to … Continue reading

Damn it, Jim, I’m a teacher, not a statistician!

I don’t care about my provincial diploma exam results. There, I’ve said it. Every year around this time, I get a little booklet slipped into my mailbox at school detailing how well my students did on their English 30 diploma exams, worth 50% of their final mark. I’ve always felt a bit nervous as I … Continue reading

Buffet learning: the future of education

In my last post (read it here), I talked about how I had transformed my English 12 class last year from an “English class” to a true community of writers. In this post, I’m going to talk about how I’m planning on expanding this experiment to my English 9 through 12 classes with the main … Continue reading

What I’m doing to change schooling in my classroom – and how it’s worked

Lesson plan. Lecture. Notes. Test. Rinse. Repeat. We’ve all seen classrooms that operate like this. In fact, I’m sure that we’ve all been in classrooms that have operated like this. Mine wasn’t so different when I started teaching. I still vividly recall my first year: part of our drama 9 curriculum was to teach the … Continue reading

Education in the 20th Century: A Reflection

Last week, a friend of mine came across a film in the archives called “Stand And Deliver.” This film from 1988 was curious: the schooling system found in the film is radically different from our own system, but as we watched the film, we got the impression that the teacher who was leading change in … Continue reading

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