Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Learning IS Personal

Each of us started out as curious learners. As an infant, we discovered our hands and how we related to our world. That was personal. It was all about us and our relationships with our parents or caregivers. As toddlers, we struggled to get up and walk. No one did that for us. It was all about us taking that first step and then another. The same with talking. If we wanted juice, we might have grunted but no one understood us. Being able to speak clearly helped us communicate our wants and needs. We did this ourselves maybe with a little nudging. But it was all about us. It was definitely personal.

Nils Fretwurst / Foto: Nils Fretwurst
The world revolved around us until we noticed we were part of a bigger world. We had to interact if we wanted companionship and to play. As we played, we learned about our part in a game or activity. The other learners were learning also at the same time. This was personal for everyone in the group. Adults probably observed and guided the process.

Yet, in most organized situations, adults took over and controlled what, where, and how each learner learned. Think about your own experiences when you were young and you felt like you could play and choose how you would learn? Then think about the times when you were told how to play or learn.
How did you feel in each of these situations?
Each of us has our own experiences growing up, different relationships, and how we learned. Each of us comes from small or large families with different backgrounds, neighborhoods, and friends. Because of these experiences, we are different than others. We are unique. Our learning experiences are personal to us. We are born inquisitive, curious, and creative. The power of us is our diversity. Each of us learns in different ways and may choose a different way to learn.

image from Geralt at Pixabay 
Then we started school. School, as most of us know it, was designed around the industrial model in the late 1800's so all children could be taught the same thing at the same ages. This was to prepare workers for factories and jobs with middle managers where employees did what they were told. Times have changed. The Internet has disrupted every business including education. Now businesses are looking for workers who are adaptable, creative, and innovative. Businesses like Kodak who invented photography have not adapted to the times and filed for bankruptcy. Remember when everything photography was Kodak? Now everyone takes pictures and shares them socially. Think of Instagram and who knows what might come next.

Sir Ken Robinson explains much of this in a recent RSA video why education must change from the ground up. It is about teaching and learning not delivering curriculum. It is about values, culture, and each learner being unique.

So we go back to why learning is personal and needs to focus on each learner and how they learn best. Learning becomes a big part of us if we can make it personal. If we want learning to be personal we need to call Learners NOT Students!

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