Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What is learning?

I love this question! I don't have the perfect answer YET. What I do know is that I used to believe that learning occured because of me as the teacher and during times with me. What I'm thinking more about now is that learning isn't linear, despite our long term plans, carefully sequenced unit plans and weekly planning. Learning doesn't just occur near the teacher.
I've been watching our little girl, who is now 13 months, learn. Babies seem quite random at times, but watching closer as she has learned to pull herself up to stand has been quite a testimony to her resilience, ability to self assess and act on feedback. She has systematically tested just about every object in the house to see if it will be stable enough for her to use. Thinking about this for the classroom, we need to allow learners free range on their environment, time to test and freedom to explore.
Next she has self assessed and acted on feedback received. She has given up on going to some objects and favourited others. This was achievable through her willingness to repeat her actions hundreds of times to make sure she was making the correct evaluation. For our classrooms we might need to allow many many opportunities for our learners. Sometimes I was too quick to move on and didn't allow the time that some learners would have wanted. I controlled the pace. Silly mistake.

So, lessons from a baby. Learning occurs when and where she is involved. Sure, we've modelled standing, not deliberately, but she has been watching. She has worked out things on her own. We praise her and clap our hands and tell her how clever she is. Because she is. It's genuine.
I'm thinking what other lessons we can learn from babies.

Day three of 28. I won't bore you with more baby stories. Promise.

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