Another dot in the blogosphere?

Least resistance

Posted on: February 8, 2021

I agree with the observations in the tweet above, particularly the one about education.

Actually I don’t, not fully. Schooling operates like that, not education. Education is not fully dependent on policymakers, administrators, and teachers because you can educate yourself and do what works.

But I digress.

Why do we know what works and yet not do it? A simple answer: We take the path of least resistance. A longer answer: Doing what works is hard work, has a long tail, and is difficult to measure.

The hard thing to do is to focus on the learning over the teaching. Ideally teaching should lead to learning, but teaching does not guarantee learning. Why? For the same reason that speaking does not ensure listening.

Learning might involve processes like independent study, discussion with peers, authentic and repeated practice, reflecting on feedback, switching strategies, etc. These are not always facilitated by a teacher in a classroom and this contributes to why this is hard to do.

Teachers and administrators have also been conditioned to rely on tests to measure learning. While these might gauge if immediate or short term learning has occurred, it does not guarantee if what is learnt now can be used later when it matters.

Longer term learning is influenced by many factors, among them the learner’s motivation to keep at it, the opportunities to practice, the availability of resources, the interaction with likeminded peers, etc. Some might call this lifelong or career wide learning, but it is just the continuation of learning.

Such learning is unique to the individual, so standardised processes are poor measures. The one toolset that might possibly capture snapshots of such learning is portfolios and these have yet to be common because we seek the path of least resistance.

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