>What does it mean to learn?

>We were driving back from Virginia Beach, and as my family is wont to do during long road trips, we were ruminating about the future direction of us children.  My brother is going to be a high school senior next year, and in his simplicity he asked a rather profound question: “So what do you actually do in college?”

My dad came up with an equally profound answer that I rather like and would like to bring to the secondary level through my own teaching.  In order to be considered a successful learner, according to my dad, one must:

  1. Find and use a new method
  2. to solve a new problem
  3. that is meaningful and important.

Changing the bolded words will change the degree to which you are successful, and maybe at the secondary level the problems and methods are less novel just because of the developmental level attained by adolescents.  But I refuse to believe that secondary students are limited to reciting old knowledge ad nauseum.  Children have an innate curiosity and creativity that, if educed (the root word of education, after all!) and supported properly, will be powerful and world-changing.  I came across the Take Action Science Project that I am interested in implementing in my curriculum (there are altogether too many ideas that I want to try!) maybe during second semester after the OGT.  (I’m still puzzling over how to get anything productive accomplished in the month and a half before the test.  I’m not a crammer by nature and reductionism runs counter to my philosophy of education, but I will have to find a way to bring things down to a manageable size if my second-term students are to have any chance on that test.  But I’ll save my rants on standardized testing for another day.)

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