Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Are We A Building of Learners

I came across a question on the blog Dangerously Irrelevant that caught my eye. The question asked:

How does an emphasis on being a ‘student’ rather than a ‘learner’ impact children’s motivation for school tasks?

A series of question that started with a similar premise followed this initial query. For me what resonated was the comparison or implied contrast between student and learner. In and even out of schools, these terms are viewed as the same. However, I think there a stark differences between these words. As suggested in the post, a student is someone who receives knowledge. Students either attend school or do well because it is part of a larger cultural norm. Additionally, students are devoid of assuming ownership in the classroom and in schools.

In contrast, I think we want our kids to be learners. To be conservative, there are a fair number of schools that state in a mission statement a desire to foster life-long learning. I think one would be challenged to find a mission statement or set of objectives in which kids are encouraged to be life-long students. Learners are active, inquisitive and assume ownership. Learners have passions and interests that are vigorously pursued. Learning further implies a constant process. Learning leads to additional questions and continued acts of discovery.

I wonder about the potential impact if we supported learners. Would the mindset begin to change if we became a building of learners and not an academic environment that delineates roles and expectations.