Learning is progressing from inability to ability do or comprehend something. If I used to not know how to subtract; if I used to not know how to spell a word; if I used to not know what was in the chapter; and now I do -- I have learned.
Learning is a personal, individual experience. I cannot learn for my students. No matter how well I know my times tables, the student will not know his or hers unless and until he or she learns them for him/her self. The only thing any teacher can do is provide experiences by which the kid can learn. The teacher can offer the experiences of explaining it, breaking into parts, offering a song or making a game of it, etc. If the experiences, do not help, the teacher must offer more experiences; reading it into a tape recorder, choosing a partner or making flash cards.
Doctors do not heal people. The body heals itself. Doctors can cut away infected tissue, provide medicine, give advice, and provide conditions for healing; but they cannot heal. Teachers can provide for learning; but they cannot do the learning.
Learning is the meaning that is constructed from experiences.
If you live on a farm, you learn to live on a farm. If you come from a home where you interact with people who speak a black dialect, you speak a black dialect. Every kid I have ever known who spoke Chinese came from a home where they spoke Chinese. I have observed that Catholics come from Catholic homes, Baptists come from Baptist homes; and kids who speak correct grammar come from homes and communities where the people speak correct grammar.
Learning is action. Before they ever go to school, kids learn to walk and talk and eat. They master an entire language, unless they come from a home where two languages are spoken, then they master two languages. They talk because they have something to say and walk because they want to get some where. They do what other family members do. And, they do it without needs assessments, certified personnel, curriculum guides, standardized tests and national standards.
Learning is the result of interaction with other people, books and things... Imagine a seven year old using profanity. The only thing I can do is respond, (remembering that failure to respond is a form of response.) I could respond with a look of horror, surprise, disgust, curiosity, interest or dozens of other "looks." Or, I could respond with comments, laughter, questions, gestures, or physical action. One or more of these responses followed by a series of responses to his responses (interaction) may cause him to have a concern for that behavior, and perhaps to change his behavior.
Learning is primarily a social act. Kids learn from the company they keep. They learn to talk, act, think, and even perceive like the people close to them. Kids do not talk like the people they watch by the hour on TV. They talk and act like their parents, friends and anyone with whom they interact, identify, respect, want to be like, and that they can be like.
Learning is cultural. What we eat, when we eat, what we eat with, even where we eat and how we sit while we eat, is a matter of culture. What we wear, how we dress and what we value is learned as part of a natural, continuous, effortless process of being a part of a community. The brain is an organ, but the mind is cultural. Culture is learned.
Learning is the personal invention or construction of knowledge. The job of education is to create a learning environment, a community of learners where kids can collect, generate and frame their own inquiries. When a toddler says, "I dood it," or "I go-ed there," he or she learned that on his or her own. The kid discovered language, learned the rule and applied it. All he or she needs is purpose and opportunity for modeling, practice, interaction and reflection. With appropriate feedback he/she will further learn that "irregular" verbs have different rules.
Learning is doing. If kids come to us lacking study skills, manners, good hygiene or interpersonal skills, appropriate behavior, etc., it is our job to provide the experiences they need to learn whatever it is they lack. We cannot blame the kid, his parents or his background. Neither the kids nor their parents are required to sign contracts prohibiting or guaranteeing certain behaviors. They do not have to agree to follow rules or do what they are told. They have no part in choosing their lessons or their teachers. All they do is show up, as required by law.
And, unless or until schools require entrance examinations, screening procedures, imposed preschool standards or pre-requisite knowledge, or make requirements for becoming parents a whole lot more restrictive, the job of education is to take students as they are, where they are and interact with them in ways that help them to become literate, productive, upstanding members of society.
Learning is emotional. We cannot separate the affective dimension from the cognitive component. There is no affective domain -- all learning is affective. Learning of every kind has meaning or value only to the extent that it affects the emotions of the learner. If the learner feels strongly, he learns. If he has no feelings about it, it is meaningless. Emotions created by imposed or extrinsic forces can, at best, have only temporary success, perhaps lasting until the test.
Learning is living. Living is doing, being, acting, interacting!
Bill Page, a farm boy, graduated from a one-room school. He forged a career in the classroom teaching middle school “troublemakers.” For the past 26 years, in addition to his classroom duties, he has taught teachers across the nation to teach the lowest achieving students successfully with his proven premise, “Failure is the choice and fault of schools, not the students.”
Bill Page is a classroom teacher. For 46 years, he has patrolled the halls, responded to the bells, and struggled with innovations. He has had his share of lunchroom duty, bus duty, and playground duty. For the past four years, Bill, who is now in his 50th year as a teacher, is also a full time writer. His book, At-Risk Students is available on Abebooks, Amazon, R.D. Dunn Publishing, and on Bill’s web site: http://www.teacherteacher.com/
In At-Risk Students, Page discusses problems facing failing students, “who can’t, don’t and won’t learn or cooperate.” “The solution,” he states, “is for teachers to recognize and accept student misbehavior as defense mechanisms used to hide embarrassment and incompetence, and to deal with causes rather than symptoms. By entering into a democratic, participatory relationship, where students assume responsibility for their own learning.” Through 30 vignettes, the book helps teachers see failing students through his eyes as a fellow teacher, whose classroom success with at-risk students made him a premier teacher-speaker in school districts across America.