Learning : Does it matter where?

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I am always thinking a great deal about what good learning looks like and does it matter where you learn. With the current deluge of information constantly available to us, I believe we need to be continually exploring this question. I know as a school we regularly revisit this question as we refine our focus areas each year for ourselves and our school. Will we ever reach a final answer?

It got me thinking further as I read recently several blogs from some of my friends who are travelling abroad, one being Mrs Schein. I’ve realised that over the years my thinking was at times skewed by the fact that I do live in Australia, “the lucky country’ and do work in a great school, that is supportive and well resourced (one could always want for more).

I thought about the many articles and blogs that I had just been reading and started reflecting further about my own learning about learning…

One of my friends is currently volunteering in India and working in some of the poorest areas in India. One of the issues is encouraging families to send their children to school so that they can learn. She recently said to me that one of the highlights of her day is seeing these children with very little, eagerly wanting to learn. Their enthusiasm to soak up any learning is amazing – where they learn does not matter to them. Their outlook is one that is very positive, happy, grateful and oozing with kindness.

Another friend is currently applying for volunteer work in South America. The organisation that she is looking at works to provide arts and literacy programming for children and adults who don’t have access to these experiences in their lives due to lack of resources and infrastructure. There are many schools, just like in India where there is simply nothing to assist with the learning. No tables, rooms, technology, equipment – nothing at all except bare dirt floors!

Mrs Schein recently blogged about the very poor living conditions of some of the Afrikan villages she has been visiting. The efforts that some of these poor children in these villages had to put in to ensure that they were able to get to school was incredible. These kids literally had to walk kilometres each morning to fetch water for their families for the day and carry it back to their village, as part of their family responsibilities. They did this twice a day.

Two years ago I had an opportunity of being involved in a leadership study tour around Northern India and witnessed two very different education systems. One system pushed their students, and placed them under enormous pressure to perform and achieve the highest marks to excel further. The other system was in the slum areas. Here I witnessed the poor slum areas where the class sizes were 40 or more students, extremely cramped conditions and limited resources. However one area that stood out was their motivation to learn. All they wanted to do was learn and were so excited to share their progress.

Does where you learn matter? Can you learn anywhere? Where is the best place to learn?

I am currently involved in regular online educational chats and find that my thoughts are continually being challenged on this issue.

Some of these have been that real learning does not only happen at a school, it can be practised anywhere, anytime and by anyone. So I ask again! What is good real learning?

I know that my own experiences and my continual growth and beliefs will continue to help me reflect, question and ponder further about what good teaching and real learning are.

Good teaching is another area altogether in another blog, but what I do know about real learning is that it is not jonly about classrooms or teachers or desks or books or computers or technology. Wherever you are in the world and whatever your circumstances, learning does <i>not</i> just look like school. It’s more than that!

Real learning is about…

wondering, asking questions and seeking answers

developing and building skills in your time

thinking about new concepts and ideas – critical thinking

making connections between new learning and what you already know

deepening understandings

constructing meaning from experiences in as many sensory experiences as possible

applying new knowledge in different contexts

practising our “You can do it” foundations or growth mindsets – persisting, having confidence in your abilities, organising yourself, collaborating and getting along and resilience (bouncing back from difficulties when they occur)

Collaborating with others to discuss your ideas and thoughts

Working with others

Making mistakes and not being afraid of this

Creative problem solving

Think time

And there’s more

And it can happen anywhere, any time and in any place.

Confession: I have changed that list again and again and keep adding more! As long as I continue to think about the possibilities, I continue to be a learner myself.

Are you?

Have a great weekend and let’s make sure we all continue to learn, be still, reflect and think just a little more deeply.

Cheers

Pav

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