What learning should do.

So, I've been thinking about what real school reform looks like, and, as I've said before, one of my first steps when thinking about school reform is the shift in focus from education to learning. A shift of importance from the front of the room to the student's seat. I wrote:

"We kneel and pray at the altar of content failing to realize that learning is not the completion of directions, but the acquisition of skills."

As I wrote, I thought, "What doesn't education do that learning does?" Perhaps not grammatically correct, but, it made me think how are these two things different. Here's what I discovered:

Where education can endure without any affect on the student, authentic learning fundamentally changes the learner.

I usually launch into the "learning to walk" story here, but I will refrain. Just let me make this point; when a "baby" accomplishes the remarkable and begins to walk, those around him or her view them differently and categorize them in a new way. They are a toddler. Learning should categorically change how learners are viewed and referenced.

Let me give you another example. I play the guitar. I taught my self, which is not a point to boast, but how often do we interchange the words "learning" and "taught myself?" Interesting. To the point, I learned to play the guitar and it changed how I reference myself, and how others see me. I'm a guitar player. I know this and, when others see me play the guitar, they can identify me as a guitar player.

So, would your students ever refer to themselves as a worksheeter or a multiple choicer? Authentic learning fundamentally changes the learner. How are you students changing?

Your thoughts are welcomed and encouraged.

Dane Barner

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