Learning to Learn

5 August 2019

“What did you learn today?”, “That’s a beautiful picture!”, “Do you know your alphabet?”, “Have you visited….?”, “How did you get on?”, “Tell me what you know about….” Some of these may sound familiar. You may have been asked them, asked them yourself or heard family members asking your children. Whilst they may be indicative of interest, what do they all have in common? A focus on end results, final product, completion, achievement.

What if education wasn’t seen as moving through the factory in the middle, taking student input to produce ‘educated’ output; but rather education was a spiralling of learning, a staying constantly in the zone of growth, a wallowing in the not knowing, yet.

What if we heard these questions: “What’s puzzling you at the moment?”, “What are you working on?”, “What’s challenged you lately?”, “Can we tackle something together?”, “What do you find hard?”, “How can we use this?”, and a sharing of our own challenges, striving, interests, things we love but aren’t ‘good at’? How we’ve overcome a problem but then what that has motivated us to face next.

Growth mindset is a real buzz phrase in education and personal development at the moment, but it is usually taken as an independent, stand-alone ‘subject’ to be learnt, conquered, and ironically, potentially completed. What if this was a lens through which we saw our whole lives and beyond us, the whole world? If the satisfaction of completion on one task fuelled us to challenge ourselves more? To keep in the stream and enjoy the swimming, rather than to focus on where it will get us.

I strive to be comfortable residing in the uncomfortable, to be seeking a variety of challenges rather than boxes to tick, and I hope my children will see that a satisfying life is one unsatisfied with a stationary mind and body. Learning is the process not the result, and in seeing that we can become so much more comfortable with failure, effort, taking our own time, making our own connections, being brave with original thought and imagination, creative in our responses, and know that education is for life, not just for school and qualifications.

Education = learning to learn.

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