Independent Learning

Hooray… my blogging drought has ended!

After today’s #edchat on Twitter, my brain just couldn’t stop rolling. The topic was “What is 21st century learning & how Is it different than 20th learning?” Lots of good discussion!

What I believe about education in the 21st century is that we absolutely must prepare our kids to be independent learners. The greatest gift I can give my students is how to find information on their own and then KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT.

For so many years, school has been “Do as I say. Learn what I tell you to learn.” If it’s not in the curriculum, we’re not supposed to teach it. Worse yet, students aren’t necessarily supposed to learn it, either.

Ask any employer today what their number one issue is with employees, and I’m sure you’ll get a lot of answers about responsibility, ethics, accountability. Those are all very important!  But I know also that many employers would say that they cannot find employees who can think for themselves or complete tasks without being told exactly what to do. Why is that? Think about what we do to kids in school, and there’s your answer.

How many times do you hear a child ask, “Is this going to be on the test?” They have learned to play the game of school. If it’s not on the test, why should they learn about it? That’s the mentality of the 20th century. It can’t be the same now.

Teach your students to discover new ideas on their own. Provide them with guidelines that are developmentally appropriate, but then also give them enough to room to succeed on their own… and fail on their own. Failing at something is extremely important to the learning process. We need to build in risk-free opportunities to fail. Besides, how many times in life is there only one right answer? Rarely. And when there is only one “right answer,” that answer tends to change. (Pluto, anyone?)

Teaching and learning in the 21st century doesn’t have to be scary. It should be fun… an adventure! There are many, many days when my students teach me new things from their own discovery. Those days remind me why I wanted to become a teacher in the first place.

I hope I can walk this talk in my classroom every single day. What about you?

One thought on “Independent Learning

  1. Michelle – I really believe standardization needs to be shifted from content to access…as in this post..

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