David Jakes at NovaNow challenged us to move beyond mission and vision statements which are just useless propaganda (my comment, not his) but instead have a manifesto about what matters to us in education. So here is my manifesto for learning:
- When you stop learning, you’re dead.
- Whoever is doing is learning.
- Knowledge gained under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Plato
- Hold your opinions with an open hand.
- If your mother says she loves you, check it out.
- Caring about justice is more important than content.
When you stop learning, you’re dead. Learning should be a lifetime experience. People who are no longer learning anything are figuratively dead, even if they are technically still breathing. Actually I think it is just about impossible to not be learning something if you are conscious. Learning of course encompasses so much more than what is taught in schools.
Whoever is doing is learning. I believe in active learning. If students are just sitting in rows listening or taking notes that is not “doing.” Learners need to be researching, questioning, experimenting, communicating, and tinkering. Learning is not always scripted but often looks more like young children playing.
Knowledge gained under compulsion has no hold on the mind. -Plato We can not force anyone to learn anything. Students cram information that they don’t care about for a test and quickly forget it. Students who explore their passions remember what they learn. We need to make room for students to control their own learning. And yes it is their learning.
Hold your opinion with an open hand. This is a hard one for students, but a mature person can see both sides of an issue and is willing to re-adjust their views based on new information. It also means being able to have a respectful discourse about a topic without getting hostile.
If your mother says she loves you, check it out. Every source no matter what the form: text, audio, visual, etc. is biased. Every piece of information should be checked out by multiple sources. The bias of everything should be considered when evaluating information. Bias is in everything, but does not necessarily mean that a source is not credible. Be slow to trust and quick to check out information.
Caring about justice is more important than content. There are two things that I really want my students to learn in my class. The first is part of the earlier points. I want my students to be critically thinking citizens. I want them to call BS and not just believe everything they hear but contemplate their own opinions deeply. The second thing I want them to learn is to care about people in this world and to make a difference in the world on an issue that matters to them. We have plenty of problems in this world to deal with and I hope that my students make a difference today and for the rest of their lives.
This is my manifesto. If you have never written one I challenge you to try it. It will help you think about what really matters to you. And don’t use the education jargon generator either.