Learning Matters Magazine – Spring 2016
I wonder about how I learn things as a fifty-something year-old adult. Do I only choose to learn when presented with a problem? Do I choose to learn for fun? For curiosity? For my job? What provokes me to learn?
I’ve been thinking about this lately and I can come up with all kinds of provocations for my learning. I do my best to learn when presented with problems because in many cases it is my job to do so, I want to find a way to help solve them. I do my best to learn when I think I need to improve my skills or my knowledge in order to achieve a potential goal. Some of my learning does come just for fun; because I am interested or curious about something. In all cases, whether for good or for ill, my learning seems to be provoked by something. Provocation, in all of the constructive aspects of the word, seems to be a normal starting point for my own learning to occur.
Once I am sufficiently provoked, I start to check out the situation. I may Google it if seems to be something Google-able. I ask people a lot of questions, either by speaking with them directly or sending them an email. And when I get answers to those questions I often test them out by asking others what they think about the answers I have received. Alternatively, I test them out by trying to apply them to slightly altered situations to see if they will hold up. Sometimes, it does not take very long at all for me to think I have learned something, but at other times I will spend years testing and trying and seeing if the solution holds up or if I can actually develop some level of skill. I am an explorer and I have always known that exploration is a critical component of my learning experiences. Maybe it is for you too.
Sometimes the exploration piece is the end of my learning, maybe too often. But when I learn at my deepest I chew on my learning. I think about it, I question it, I test it out further, I try it out in different situations, and I apply new challenges against it. I learn deepest when I reflect on my learning. And this short introduction is a great example of that. As I sit here and type I am thinking; “Does this really hold true for me?” and, “Would this apply to others as well?”, and, “Am I learning by inquiry?”
I believe that most of my true learning in my everyday life comes about as a result of inquiry. And I suppose that the most powerful learning that any of us will ever do comes as a result of inquiry. If that is the case, I think it is worth it for us to be provoked to explore inquiry learning further for Our Kids.
Randy Dueck, Superintendent, CEO
Hanover School Division