Meaty learning as learnership

Meatiness – the degree to which something deepens or accentuates an experience.  For example, the meatiness of discussion relies on the depth of knowledge each person(s) has about the topic.  Or, a class is meaty because it gives so much to think about. We need meaty learners, learners who can identify their passions and learn about them.  What is this kind of learning and what is it not? Let’s start with what it is not.  It is not sitting in a lecture or presentation.  It is not having a teacher download information to students as they listen passively information interaction other than to take notes.  It is not listening to a webinar.

Meaty learning is when the learner is immersed in the curriculum being coached how to learn content and demonstrate what is learned (curriculum is different than standards).  Contextually, the learner’s atmosphere drives him/her to ask questions and inquire about how the content adds relevancy to their life.  Inquiry – asking questions and answering boy learningthem, or solving problems – is meaty because the learner is choosing to delve deeper into the curriculum through their own lens. Connections between ideas, concepts, and generalizations are made bridging new learning synapses. The teacher in this kind of learning loses authorship giving it up for learnership.  Learnership is learning with students facilitating “learning how to learn”.  The student guides this auto-biographical experience  as problems are solved, questions are asked and answered, and learning products are created with the teacher being nearby as the guide.  No longer is there teaching in its original sense but transformed to guide individual learners to their own original thoughts and ideas expressed in a variety of ways.  Students learn the content and teacher is the guide.  ICT gives learners multiple paths to learn and express their learning – a beauty of technology.  Teachers are now the new learner – the kind of learner that learns alongside students. Meaningful interaction, or facilitation, with students is the glue in the classroom.  Teachers and students lose the classification of “student” and “teacher” to an encompassing category of “learner” because there is the atmosphere of learnership all love and desire.  This desire is the meaty learning as meatiness in the classroom for each person wants to grow.

Meaty teaching is learnership where the teacher is both learner and leader in the love of learning.

photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection via photopin cc

Relevant learning experiences

I just had a conversation with a teacher in which the fundamental question that has to be asked and answered is:  How do students engage in relevant learning experiences?  We already know the answer.

Compulsory learning does nothing for the student.  In fact, it demeans the entire goal of learning and the intrinsic motivation to do so.  Going through my preservice teaching classes, much discussion revolved around intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation to learn.  Extrinsic, from my point of view, learning is achieved when I give a student a reward – candy, bookmark, computer time.  Intrinsic motivation is learning because the student is compelled to do so.  To compel a student to learn means the learning experience is not contrived.

Contrived learning is the lesson plan that structures every step of what to learn and how to learn it.  The teacher, knowing the easy path is giving the student everything they need to learn, writes down the steps to be followed.  Students know they are not really learning.  As I frequently reiterate to myself, learning is messy.  At times there is a straight forward process to learning though, more often than not, there is no process, no steps to follow, and certainly no plan.

Real world learning is the only way we will get students to remain engaged but this means a shift in teaching.  The shift is from teacher centered to student centered.  Many claim to be student centered in planning, teaching, and assessing, but the reality is that we, as teachers, do what is easiest.  It is easy to lecture, use the teacher manual, use online textbook resources, and download content.  However, we already know that the degree to which the content is learned is much deeper than traditional teaching models.  The same mantra is repeated in spite of this and that is there is too much content to cover and little time to teach all of it.  We cannot call downloading of content teaching.  We can call it a speech with information but no student is really engaged as a teacher speaks to class for an entire period.  Teaching would involve inquiry by asking important questions to solve real life problems today, and not just creating the presentation that show regurgitated content.

We already know the answer to high quality teaching, it is transforming ourselves to do it.