"Again, the importance of personally taking control of the direction of learning from the very first steps cannot be stressed enough. If a person feels coerced to read a certain book, to follow a given course because that is supposed to be the way to do it, learning will go against the grain. But if the decision is to take that same route because of an inner feeling of rightness, the learning will be effortless and enjoyable."
-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow
Wow. This guy just nailed it.
If we don't focus on this essential first step, student autonomy and buy-in (and meaningful standards), the whole process becomes unpleasant and ineffective.
This quote is from the chapter on the joys of mental pursuits, and in its closing section, he sums it up:
"Many people give up on learning after they leave school because thirteen or fourteen years of extrinsically motivated education is still a source of unpleasant memories. Their attention has been manipulated long enough from the outside by textbooks and teachers, and they have counted graduation as the first day of freedom."And the end result of all this? Not only will they miss out on the joy of learning, "But a person who forgoes the use of his symbolic skills is never really free. His thinking will be directed by his neighbours, by the editorials in the papers, and by the appeals of television. he will be at the mercy of 'experts.'"
There's a lot at stake here. Radical change in education is long past due.