A little while back Alfie Kohn wrote a blog post titled “The Why Axis;” he wrote about an idea he had to create what he would call, WHY Sheets. He says, “The idea was to help educators explain why they do what they do — and, equally important, why they deliberately avoid doing some things. The sheets would be made available free of charge, uncopyrighted, and accompanied by an invitation to distribute them promiscuously.” Unfortunately Alfie Kohn did not create these, but instead he challenged educators around the world to write their own WHY Sheets. He asked us to pause and reflect on our own practices and school policies, to consider why we do what we do and to share these beliefs with our communities. Kohn reminded us that our role as educators is to also help our learning community to understand why we do what we do and to build these beliefs together. When we, as a learning community, share the same beliefs and language we can truly begin to build a culture of learning.
After Alfie Kohn published his blog the “Human Restoration Project” led the movement forward by publishing their WHY Sheet on the elimination of homework, and they shared it with everyone! They have since added another WHY Sheet about gradeless learning, and again freely shared it with us all. Inspired by both Alfie Kohn’s call to reflect on our beliefs and share our WHY, as well as the Human Restoration Project’s generosity, we began thinking about our own WHYs. We now have five of our own WHY sheets, built upon the work of others, that we would like to share.
While we are sharing these, and we do want you to use them, we also want you to consider building your own WHY Sheets for your context and then sharing them for others to build upon. The power of the WHY Sheet lies not just in the content but in the process of building them as a community of learners creating a shared culture of learning. We now better understand what we do and why we do it, and as Alfie Kohn pointed out, we also know what we don’t do and why we don’t. We will be sharing these WHY Sheets with our parent community in a few weeks as we look to end this school year and offer them to our new teachers was we begin a new school year. We hope these sheets will help all of our community members feel knowledgeable and empowered to come on the journey with us as partners in learning. And in sharing them with our wider community of educators around the globe, you, we hope we can not just partner with our school community but in a community of schools internationally, who share in a similar vision and hope for the future of education. We would love your feedback and partnership as well! Please let us know your thoughts and ideas as we move forward as a community of worldwide learners.