One of my favorite (of many) snips so far from David Price’s great new book Open: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn in the Future:
No one can be ‘made’ to learn anything: for knowledge and understanding to stick, we have to have learner intent. The quality of one’s learning is directly related to our desire to learn. This is why progress made in learning socially, voluntarily, is invariably far greater than in the formal, compulsory context…We can’t motivate learners to learn: many teachers believe it’s their job to motivate their students. It’s not. They can only truly motivate themselves. But a great teacher helps learners see the relevance which drives self-motivation – why learning something will make a difference in their lives. [Emphasis mine.]
This echoes Sarason’s “productive learning is learning that engenders wanting to learn more,” and it makes me chuckle at those who spend huge sums on technology to “raise student engagment.” It’s about relevance, silly.
We’ve all forgotten 80% (if not more) of the stuff we learned in high school because we were “made to learn” it. Same is happening to my kids right now, and the bigger problem is that they’re learning nothing about learning except that, at least as the system defines it, they hate it.
And don’t miss the power in that italicized statement above. Social, voluntary learning is more powerful than institutional learning as it’s currently constructed. (We know this in our guts whether we admit it out loud or not. I see it in my kids, too.) And now that our potentials for social, voluntary learning have expanded exponentially thanks to the Web, are we really going to say that it doesn’t count in terms of defining our expertise in our chosen fields? Really?
Once again, it all circles back around to this: How are we helping kids develop into the powerful, self-directed, self-organized, transparent, connected learners they need to be to solve any problem with any one and create meaningful, beautiful, important work that lives in the world and changes the world for the better?
Hint: It ain’t worksheets.