What does it mean to learn?

Earth and Saturns moons to scale.photo © 2006 Bluedharma | more info (via: Wylio)

This afternoon I had a fascinating read through Will Chamberlain’s blog: And what Do YOU mean by learning? It was fascinating in a couple of ways.

First I think that Will’s discussion of the disconnect in learning between the two different approaches, one more or less geared around the traditional view of tests and data, and one more less involved in realizing that learning actually has many facets and is a process, is an important discussion. It is one that needs to be had more often within our ranks and with those around us, including parents and especially decision makers.

The second reason that I found his blog very interesting was his discussion of his daughter’s progress with learning. It reminded me of something that I’ve been rolling around in my mind for the last several months. I have become convinced that it really is important for me to pay attention to how my child is learning. I have a five year old and I have really begun to pay attention to how he learns. Like Will I have been fascinated by my child’s process and progress. He learns not because anyone sits there and tell him he must learn, he learns because he thinks it’s incredibly interesting, and in the process figures out the details. As a high school teacher I too often deal with students who have had that wonder pushed out of them, and I have been interested in watching the beginnings of the learning process. If I were to measure his progress using standard methods of school assessment, he couldn’t be measured because he can’t write and read (at least not beyond the most rudimentary basics). Yet he knows, and is constantly assimilating knowledge because he likes it, because he asks questions, because he wants to be engaged in conversation. I often think that this is what I am missing in my high school classes. I teach those things that the students will be tested on. I surely try to engage them in conversations, to ask them questions, and to get them to like it. What my five year-old has taught me is that I have a lot more to do.


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