Friday, April 25, 2014

The Stuff of Learning

"We don't know what to do next on our project," said a student.
"What do you think the next step would be?" I replied.
"Well, we could do (lists three things to do)," she said.
"That sounds great. Do those!" I said.

A few days later, the same student came to me and said, "Okay, we finished those three things. We're done."

This exchange exemplifies the battle we have been waging this year. Students are still dependent on teacher direction even when the project is their own. They want to know what the teacher wants them to do, complete those tasks, and be finished with it. This is NOT the stuff of learning.

The message we are trying to get through to the kids is that learning is never-ending. It rejuvenates our minds and our souls. People are most excited when they are learning something new or about to learn something new. Learning is the constant exposure to new things, some of which we didn't even know existed before. Learning is not fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice. It is Learner's Choice! We choose what we learn and we choose how we learn it. Even when students are in classrooms from the past, fact-based or multiple choice classrooms, they still choose what and how to learn. Much of the time students choose not to learn the material or figure out ways to avoid the tasks altogether. Even that is learning, just not the learning desired by the teacher.

Many of our kids are "getting it". They are racing further ahead than we could have imagined. They are not only learning a boatload of content but also the skills of learning: how to create, how to search and retrieve information, how to think critically, how to problem-solve, how to curate material, how to communicate their ideas and how to deal with the world outside our school walls. This IS the stuff of learning. - Don

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