The Learning Project

It’s been said and discussed often here and in many places that a real shift for educators is moving from teacher to learner. Not so much moving, we still need teachers, and expertise matters but until we see ourselves as learners and intentionally show are students we can’t be the educators our students need us to be. 

Last week I began my ECMP 355 course with largely freshman pre-service teachers. My usual introduction to my course reminds them that they are the winners of education. They were successful students because they were largely compliant and knew how to survive and thrive in a system that values a “mind your own business” style of learning. Do what you’re told, when you’re told to, and you’ll be fine. Learning isn’t very self-directed in this system. Students wait to be told what to learn.

I’m trying to get them to consider something new. I truly believe that the best coaches in sports aren’t usually the best athletes. They are often the bench players, backups and lesser-known players who end up becoming the best coaches because they truly understand and can break down the subtleties of the game.  Understanding not only how you learn but being able to articulate it and express it is a skill I’m not convinced all our teachers have. 

Last year I read Ewan’s post about a 100-hour challenge. I tucked that post away because I knew I’d come back to it. So with that idea in mind, I’m asking my students to take 25-50 hours and learn something new. While Ewan’s goals were somewhat different, I want my students to explore a few things.

1. Learn a skill, concept or idea you know very little or nothing about but that you’re interested in learning

2. Document the learning. Write about it, videotape, audio record, whatever.

3. Consider all the sources you use to learn. Collect those resources. 

4. Take an early baseline snapshot of your understanding at the beginning and another one at the end. Compare and analyze. 

That’s it. As the quote above says, make your learning transparent.  I’ve never done a project like this with students before. it’s not really about technology and yet it will be as students share their learning and consider people who can be their teachers. I feel like I need to participate in this as well. So I decided that I’d like to learn to play the guitar. I love music, and have some musical background but have never learned to play the guitar. Starting with my daughter as one of my teachers, I completed my first lesson.

I’m really looking forward to my own learning but also watching others learn as well. If you have any ideas on how to make this idea/project better, let me know.