The big question was genius hour. I knew it would cause us to go slower, but in theory it would be worth it. Letting students follow, develop and share their passions should be a main goal of classrooms. I knew it would lower test scores, but in terms of "eternal significance" passion should always outweigh test scores right? It reminded me of an analogy for learning I wrote about during my masters program.
In today's testing environment learning seems to be a train ride. There are tracks that predetermine where students go and there is no deviation from the path. Not only are students on the same path, they are transported in the same cars on the train. Meanwhile the train speeds by the beauty of the landscape and students can only catch glimpses as it passes by.
My argument is that the train not only needs to allow various speeds, but encourage stops along the way. Students need to be able to get out and wander the land. We need to allow students to stop and smell the roses of learning. We need to let them explore the land to develop or find their interests.
This will in the end slow the trip down. Not all students will reach the end destination. However all students will travel significant distances during the year. They will hopefully end the year with a passion, some great experiences, and a love of learning.