The keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a different kind of mind—creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people—artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, care-givers, consolers, big picture thinkers—will now reap society’s richest rewards. -Daniel Pink
Recently, in educational circles, like on Twitter, there has been more and more discussion about giving students more autonomy in the classroom. Just the other day I read an article posted by @Edutopia called “Student Power” that discussed the importance of independent projects for students, citing the work of Monument Mt. Regional High in Massachusetts and other schools. Student autonomy is a way to make education more relevant to students today where the future, in Daniel Pinks words, “belongs to a very different kind of person.” Meaning, educators should be focused on ways to help students enter a new world. For example, focus on ways students can take more control of their learning, to help them to be creative thinkers rather than just critical, help them to see and recognize patterns, to be able to see and make connections, and to encourage students to be “big-picture thinkers.” I like to think also that we need to help students to see solutions where most people see problems. Independence demands trusting students and can be a very challenging transition for many teachers, but as I hope to show here, the results can be far more beneficial to teachers, schools, the students we graduate, and certainly to our collective futures.