Tuesday, September 8, 2015

naturally curious and wired for learning

A great conversation was started the other day on twitter when @Sisyphus retweeted @agileschools quote, "This goal, learning to learn, should be the primary goal of education."

The world is filled with beautiful and dramatic questions. We are surrounded with opportunities to create things and have them matter. As humans we are naturally curious and wired for learning...

So why is the idea of learning to learn so popular?

Learning or discovery shows up in after school programs, in outside the classroom games, and in the archetype of the Hero's Journey (challenge, failure, success, return). Perhaps it's time to start supporting the idea of innate learning in the pursuit of discovery.

This twitter conversation reminded me that I had Will Richardson's new book, Freedom to Learn, on my kindle. I started reading it and couldn't put it down.

From the overview:

It's a great book. You should read it... because our education system isn't going away any time soon and you might be asking yourself, "What, if anything, changes?"

My favorite quotes from Freedom to Learn:
By and large, education is something still organized, controlled, and deliver by the institution; very little agency or autonomy is afforded to the learner over his or her own learning.
Here's the problem: increasingly, for those who have the benefit of technology devices and access to the internet, learning outside of school is more profound, relevant, and long lasting than learning inside the classroom. Connected learners of all ages have agency and autonomy that are stripped from them as they enter school. 
Learning is continual, effortless, unpremeditated, independent of rewards and punishment, a social activity, all about growth, and never forgotten.
It's arguable that we've always wanted knowers over learners; just look at our assessments.
... shouldn't the focus of our work now be to develop kids as learners instead of knowers? 
And then... toward the end of the book, there's a reality check of where we've let ourselves come to:
And, finally, current standardized assessments are a multibilliondollar industry - more than a quarter billion just for Pearson alone - that few in the business (or in the statehouse) have any real interest in changing.
The fact is that learning is leaving the building. 
What do you have the courage to change? How committed are you to bringing those changes about?

"What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook." 
- Henry David Thoreau

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