Peter Johnston + Agency

These words of Peter Johnston’s from his book Choice Words (2004) have been tumbling around in my mind this weekend.  I plan to keep them close as I go about my work this week.

If nothing else, children should leave school with a sense that if they act, and act strategically, they can accomplish their goals (29).

As teachers, then, we try to maximize children’s feelings of agency.  There are really three parts to this:  the belief that the environment can be affected, the belief that one has what it takes to affect it, and the understanding that that is what literacy is about (39).

Developing in children a sense of agency is not an educational frill or some mushy-headed liberal idea.  Children who doubt their competence set low goals and choose easy tasks, and they plan poorly (40).