Occasional Thoughts on Educational Technology and Life by Judy Brophy

Friday, March 19, 2010

Choices and Learning

The pace of change has made learning content/facts not very useful as an educational goal. Students, indeed people, need to become life time learners to get along in the world. How do we as educators nurture that ability to learn?

I offer two suggestions:

• By asking students to make distinctions where none were before.
• By having students create something

When students draw distinctions, the distinctions are necessarily relevant to themselves. Ellen Langer’s* research has shown that the more students draw distinctions the more involved they are in a subject and the more that they like it. Creating your own perspective makes you aware of differing perspectives. These are all skills that are sorely needed on the planet right now.

Create something of your own is an entirely involving activity. It is learning at a high level. You learn about the subject, of course. If it is a group activity, you learn about other people and how to work with them. And you learn about yourself, how you think and how you feel about the world.

When students make choices they learn. Increase the choices they must make and you increase learning.

Langer, Ellen, The Power of Mindful Learning, Addison Wesley, 1997. http://bit.ly/craz6x

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