Learning to be better learners

26 Jul

Tom Whitby has so eloquently penned the following post that I dare not alter a word.

Look up his blog and follow him. it is worth the cranial trip!

Teachers Are Poor Consumers of Learning

July 24, 2012 by tomwhitby

There are only a few explanations that many educators offer up as reasons not to learn and use any technology as tools for learning. One of the most popular excuses, frequently cited by educators, is that there is not enough time to learn all of the stuff that is out there. It certainly is true that there are a huge number of things to learn out there that are linked to technology. When thought about as a complete package, it most definitely can be overwhelming, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. Where I disagree however, is in thinking about all of this technology stuff as a complete unit that must be learned all at once. There are logical and necessary ways to break things down to learn smaller snippets of things on a need-to-know basis in order to build into a larger framework of information.

In sales people are taught that if you can answer a customer’s objection to a product, you are more likely to make the sale. The problem is that the customer more often than not cannot articulate what the real objection is. They will say that they object to one thing, while the real reason is that they can’t afford it. If money is not the problem, they might choose color, or, size, or, complexity, or simplicity as an excuse not to buy something, when all along the reason for the objection is that they don’t understand how to use the product. The product is too complicated and they fear that they will fail at learning how to use it effectively, as well as looking foolish for all to see. That is not an objection that the customer will publicly admit to, or even privately to himself.  Of course a good salesperson will discover the objection allay the fears and make the sale. The customer, after making the purchase, will then take home the product, place it in a closet, and never visit it again until the eventual possibility of its placement in some future yard sale becomes a reality.

As educators, we deal with information, and once that was a limited commodity. Theoretically, at one time all of the available information in the world could have been contained within a very large publication. With each passing day however, the amount of information available to us grew in drips and drabs. It really began to increase exponentially with the advent of technology from pens, to printing press, to computer, to the internet. No publication could house all of the information available in the world today. I have been a classroom teacher for 40 years. There is way more stuff to teach today compared to when I started out.

As educators, do we throw up our hands and say that this is all too much, and there is not enough time for our students to learn all of the stuff that is out there? I think not! We actually break things down for our learners into teachable bites of information to be assembled and digested as ideas and concepts as our learners are able to take these things in. As educators the volume of information of what we teach will continually increase. That should never be a deterrent to educators preventing teachers from teaching, or learners from learning. We also now teach the skills for learners to critically analyze information so that they continue learning on their own beyond the limitations of their teachers. There is however one exception to this picture that I have just drawn out. The idea that educators are prevented from learning about technology tools for learning because there is just too much information.

Why don’t educators learn from their own teaching? Break things down into small bites of information. Learn what needs to be learned first, rather than all that can be learned, which is an unattainable goal that will overwhelm. Do not be daunted by the amount of information available, but inspired by that which is attainable. As a teacher’s knowledge of technology increases, so do the skills of learning more, as well as the ability to teach more. Technology doesn’t make a bad teacher good, but it can make a good teacher great. Educators should not be defined by their limitations, but rather by their ability to learn as well as teach. To be better educators, we must first be better learners.

 

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