An educator can never cease to learn – but what makes learning meaningful to us?
We know how important (free) play is for children and how much it contributes to their learning – I think the dynamic way of play is the main contributor there (don’t have any data about this, but to me it seems like common sense: being able to control the play and make sense of the sensory feed related to it). And I assume that is what fascinates adult learners, too, the ability to connect ideas in a playful way.
Every day we gain more information about how learning happens: with imaging techniques researchers are able to track what areas in our brain are active during learning. We know how each brain is different, and how learning is individual, and how different people manage and manipulate the knowledge in unique ways.
How about teaching? Are we still using the same teaching methods that were common hundreds of years ago? Teaching and learning are like the two opposite sides of a coin – inseparable but opposite. We educators must learn to match our teaching styles with the dynamic view of knowledge, and find new ways for facilitating our students’ learning.
Teaching is about communicating one’s own knowledge and understanding of the subject to students who either absorb it as is, absorb it with internal modifications, or discard it. Learning is about constructing a worldview. Facilitating students’ learning means helping our students to construct their own understanding of the subject, and negotiating the meaning of the words and concepts with our students until it makes sense to them.
We teachers don’t like to have someone to come and tell us what to do. Very few students like that either. To have an effective educational system, we must understand that effective teachers are simply facilitators of students’ individual learning processes – and the ones who incite the spark of lifelong learning.
Of course, if you have lost the passion of learning you cannot transfer that to your students either. Facilitating our own learning is the beginning.
What do you need to do to find the old flame, and fall in love with learning again?