Esther Wojcicki's Philosophy

When people are quiet, it doesn't mean they are listening.

I am not the oracle, I want the students to challenge me. It encourages them to think critically. I bring in all sorts of people in positions of authority, to give the students a chance to challenge them.

My goals are to teach them to think, to express their thinking in writing, and to get along. They have to evaluate the information that is presented to them daily. "Who wrote this? Why was the movie good?" I tell them this the first day of class, but it still takes them a long time to get accustomed to the idea of thinking through and about the information presented.

Kids 13 to 20 years of age are driven to be independent; teaching that helps them accomplish is empowering, motivating and productive.

All students want to succeed. Any student can do anything. I don't let them get away with excuses, instead believing in them. The point is for them to do it right -- and I'm willing to help them do it, but they are the ones that will have to do the work.

Fear of failure and competition can ruin the students' motivation, but teachers can allow revisions of the students work, and encouraging student participation.

If students generate topics and ideas for themselves, it becomes their project -- generating excitement and responsibility. Once kids are motivated and enthusiastic, they can do anything. They work much harder and enjoy more, because they are empowered.

We have to trust and respect students. The teacher should not be above the students. We have to treat them as responsible adults, so that when they are 18 and leave for college they behave as such. My students tell me anything -- they know they can trust me, which allows me to advise them effectively.


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This page summarizes Heidy Maldonado, David Sears, and May Britt Postholm's Project for Ed224: Technology in the Classroom, a Stanford University class taught during the Winter 1999-2000 quarter. Our research centers around Esther Wojcicki's classroom practices, ("Woj" to her students) and we hope to give you, the visitor, a glimpse of how and why she manages to combine technology and project work so successfully.

An adaptive classroom is one in which students and teacher collaborate to construct understanding. It is flexible in its uses of teaching strategies and technologies, incorporating those that improve the overaching goals of the classroom. We invite you to take a glimpse at what lies behind a successful adaptive classroom.

© Copyright 2000, Heidy Maldonado, David Sears, May Britt Postholm.