If one thing has stuck with me these past few days as I have read a New Culture of Learning and watched various videos is that learning is fluid and dynamic – always morphing and changing. What and how we learned 30+ years ago is quite different than this generation of students learn. Just last weekend, my 3 grown children (ages 18, 23 and 27) were chatting and at least 3 times in the conversation, the kids looked up answers on their phones (who wrote that book?, how many miles to Destin?, name of that movie star in the new musical?) – information is literally at our fingertips now. And although we can get all the information we ever need online, socialization is still a necessity as we are social beings that discuss, debate and develop our ideas and opinions from those around us.
The information shared from my children last weekend honestly didn’t impact me at all personally – that knowledge was not needed but it led to additional discussions of how trustworthy were the answers they found? How and where did you search for that answer and did you consider <fill in the blank>? Why did you double-check my answer when I told you the very same thing?! My children do not know what a card catalog looks like or shuffled through a bookshelf full of giant encyclopedias. They don’t automatically take my word as gospel. They pull up videos, TedTalks, websites, experts (and often non-experts!) when they want to learn something new (or double and triple check what they have been told). I cannot and refuse to teach in the way that I was taught all those years ago – sit and listen (and try not to fall asleep!). I want to keep trying to make learning fun and engaging regardless of the actual topic. That excitement is greatly impacted by ME – the teacher. I need to adopt the growth mindset and see every challenge as an opportunity. Whether the environment is in my home or at my job where my learners are the teachers (I am not in the traditional classroom setting), learning can take place and be authentic, engaging, motivational and contextual! Technology is an added bonus that can be used to facilitate learning but taking that information and using the technology to support, coach and mentor will allow learners additional freedom to be creative and tailored to their wants and needs.
In my many years in education, I think my personality has always been to create professional learning that was entertaining – not necessarily based on the topic but if we all have to learn something new, let’s at least make our time together enjoyable and understand the “why” so there was some buy-in. Perhaps that is why I love the New Culture of Learning because it shows me that I can shift the process to be less about the comedic relief and more about involvement, culture and creativity. The holistic approach is encouraging me to put my learners first and to not be the entertainer but to create a joyful, creative environment where every learner is encouraged to participate, communicate, disseminate and apply the information to their own personal situation (the context). I cannot learn FOR them but I can check the box that the teachers received the required information. What good is that if they walk out and forget everything that was told TO them? Just because they “sign-in and mark completed” does not mean they are engaged or interested!! I am excited to brainstorm and determine the best way to provide learning environments that are authentic, joyful, playful, full of discovery and creativity, choice and voice!