Another dot in the blogosphere?

Enabling learning

Posted on: October 4, 2018

The mind works in strange ways. Right before I fell asleep two nights ago, I remembered a conversation I had with an educator in the US eight years ago. She remarked that we had different ways of using the word “enable” as well as its derivatives “enabling” and “enabler”.

This rise-above statement arose because I mentioned that technology should not be used to merely enhance teaching and that it should enable learning.

My conversation partner’s perspective of “enabling” was somewhat negative, e.g., enabling someone else’s alcoholism by buying alcohol. Her perspective might also include being passive, e.g., not intervening or interfering with the addiction.

In the contexts of schooling and education, such enabling could allow systemic racism or bullying to persist and perhaps get worse. So I saw her point about how enabling was negative.

But this was not my perspective on enabling, particularly on enabling learning with technology. I saw (and still see) enabling as showing support by freeing learners and empowering them.

In the contexts of schooling and education, enabling is knowing when to let go, e.g., if learners show initiative instead of reining them in. Enabling is also giving learners ownership of processes and products of learning.

I still do not know if I got my point across then. I know I still have to make that point to teachers and educators today. I can try to free and empower them with dissonant thoughts, but only they can choose to learn.

The hardest part of learning something new is not embracing new ideas, but letting go of old ones. -- Todd Rose (In “The End of Average”)

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