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Posts Tagged ‘learning

Learning is not a spectator sport.

The old school stance was mostly learning about content. Such content retention and understanding was and still is quite efficiently measured with tests.

The current mood of schooling seems to be shifting to learning to think. This recognises how information is more readily available and fluid, so much so that the student and worker needs to learn how to process such breadth and uncertainty.

The school of yesterday and today might have paid lip service on learning to be. It is not enough for students to learn and think critically about science, history, or architecture. They need to learn how to be scientists, historians, or architects.

The reality is that we need all three: Learning about, learning to think about, and learning to be. The reality is also that it is easier to determine the outcomes of learning about, even if that learning is superficial or temporary.

It is much more difficult and probably illogical to test for contextual thinking and acting. Perhaps the school of tomorrow might focus on learning to be and finding ways to better evaluate embodiment of learning.

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”)

Video source

Hank Green described how one group of students were directed to make a “perfect pot” out of clay while another group was told to make as many as possible.

Spoiler: The perfect group could not find or make their pot while other group was messy but made many good pots.

If I were to show this video to a group of teachers and educators, I am certain to get many different responses. I have my own: The first process is one modelled on the expert teaching model, while the second reflects the messiness of learning.

Teaching is neat. Learning is messy.

…is for commitment. But if someone felt the need to redefine it, PLCs are not going the way they should.

PLCs, or professional learning circles/communities, gained ground after formal and organised professional development for teachers somehow got a bad reputation.

That reputation seemed to be linked to training that was devoid of context, standardised exercises that were not meaningful to participants, or sessions that were just too technical.

But it looks like some PLCs are suffering from similar problems. When gatherings become meetings for their own sake instead of focusing on teacher development needs, the tweeted reminder comes as no surprise.

PLCs need commitment at the individual level first, not at the group. The meetings tend to be about the group, administrative needs, or how things are normally run.

Professional learning is about the individual first. That is where the commitment starts because it stems from the need to change for the better.

How that commitment manifests varies with the individual. Even though I am not part of any organisation, I have developed the discipline of reading, watching, and/or listening to learn something every day. Then I make myself write in this blog whether or not I am ready or want to. This is my PLC; it is my personal learning commitment.

I created this image quote in 2015 after reading a variant of the words attributed to George Bernard Shaw.

We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.

But with every axiom comes exceptions.

Video source

According to the research cited in this video, age is a factor at the highest levels of video gaming.

However, this does not invalidate the principle that we do not have to outgrow curiosity, a sense of fun, or risk-taking. Older gamers also learn to metagame — they devise strategies to compensate for split second slowness.

This was a tweeted question.

This was my short response.

This is my longer explanation and reflection.

Trying to define “personalised learning” is like trying to nail jelly to a wall. It will not stick. It is also futile to think that you can find just one answer or get to the root of what is a mycelial or rhizomal concept.

What looks like a single opening on the surface, a figurative rabbit hole, soon becomes an underground maze with options at every turn.

I could say the same for blended learning or e-learning. Ask ten different experts and you will get ten different answers.

Attempts to distill or simplify personalised, blended, or e-learning are noble gestures because they seek to establish start points. The problem is if such simplifications actually serve as end points.

There is much history and nuance in processes of teaching and learning. It is tempting to conceptualise in order to contain the apparent chaos. The temptation is worth the risk if the learner seeks more than just a superficial lick. The greater likelihood is that the learner eschews nuance and details for quick shortcuts.

Recently someone remarked how her students referred to some food as “Muslim desserts”. I chortled because someone else I know noticed a sign above a local food stall that declared “Muslim food” and he said, “Food cannot be Muslim. Only people can be Muslim.”

That person was someone I befriended almost 20 years ago in the US. I was hosting him on a visit that naturally included a local lunch. The error of the sign was clear to him.

People who grow up here might not even have noticed the mistake or the clumsy humour of “Muslim food”. That is why kids still think of dessert as Muslim.

This happens because we are too close to something to see the issue or problem. It takes an outsider or someone who seems unfamiliar with the context to actually point out the error.

Being the stranger, and not being too comfortable with what is around you, can be a strength instead of a weakness. Such fresh eyes are borne of a learner mindset.

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