I want my students to learn: but what is learning?

Now that I know what TEACHING is, I must then move to thoughts about what LEARNING is.  As a teacher, I want to encourage my STUDENTS to innovate and be creative.  But before I can teach others, I must first learn myself.

While teaching is an active word, so too is learning, but in the opposite sense. To learn then is to acquire and take on various skills, knowledge or attitudes. Learning can be done in an educational setting, when it is explicitly being taught, and effort is being put into the action of acquiring knowledge, but it also happens daily without any effort. Learning is done using our memory (remembering important dates in a history lesson), using our emotions (how to cope with stressful situations), using our bodies (muscle memory of how to ski), and using broader attitudes (determination is a skill that can be practiced). Learning is a continuum that has no end: there are always skills to be improved, new information to be learned (especially in a fast-paced digital world), and ways to change our attitude. In order for learning to occur there must be some level of motivation (whether extrinsic or intrinsic) that enables us to put in the time, effort or money required to learn a new concept.
Martin backs up the idea that learning is continual when he speaks of the fact that there is now (and always was) too much to learn. Learning is not simply then taking in information, but a much broader, more holistic concept. Learning then begins by grasping the new concept, but then must include being able to process it and make sense of it in our own way. Mueller, Melwai & Goncalo speak to some of the fundamental skills that must be learned (creativity, determination, perseverance) rather than just information gathering. Hennessey & Amabile speak about learning that is a balance between intelligence and creativity (and the old and the new) in order to achieve both stability and change within our current society.

Funny Quotes About Learning

Hennessey, B.A., & Amabile, T.M. (2010). Creativity. Annual Review of Psychology, 61, 569 – 598. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.093008.100416
Martin, J.R. (1996). There’s too much to teach: Cultural wealth in an age of scarcity. Educational Researcher, 25(2), 4–16. doi: 10.3102/0013189X025002004
Mueller, J.S., Melwai, S., & Goncalo, J.A. (2012). The bias against creativity: Why people desire but reject creative ideas. Psychological Science, 23(1), 13–17. doi: 10.1177/0956797611421018


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