Another thing I have found (through literature reviews) is that giving students more freedom in their work ultimately leads to better, more innovative ideas. I think this is partly due to the idea that ownership leads to having more pride in your work, which in turn makes you want to work harder, longer, and smarter on a particular assignment. That's the idea behind the 20% project. This blog that I found outlines how a teacher can implement a 20% project in their classroom.
For those of you who haven't heard of this before, it's the idea (starting with 15% for 3M in the 1950's and Google later on with the 20% projects) of telling employees to use 20% of their time on pet projects that they were personally interested in and were not part of their job description. It has resulted in innovative products such as Gmail, AdSense, Google News, Post-Its, and masking tape!
In education, it would be the equivalent of giving students a project to work on at the beginning of the year, and giving them either complete autonomy or little guidance. Clearly, 20% of their coursework would be focused on this project. The article goes into detail on exactly how it can be implemented in the classroom.
So have a read and let me know what you think. Do you think the 20% project idea can translate to the education sector? Can it have as big of an impact here as it did at companies like 3M and Google? What are some of the downsides of using this approach in the classroom? Let me know your thoughts!