Learning. When you have the opportunity to watch learning – in any context – it’s really a beautiful thing. These past few weeks, there has been a lot of learning happening in our family. And it has been an amazing thing to watch. Our young son is discovering that the letters he knows (for the most part) are the same letters that are used to make words. This discovery has opened up a whole new world to him – and he now sees letters and words everywhere. From the backseat of the car I hear “Mama, what does that sign say?” From the bathroom I hear “Mama, there’s a K on that box!” From the bedroom (while he should be sleeping) I hear, “Mama, you have an H in your name. You make by going down, down and across. Shoop.”
All this learning has really had me reflecting on learning. More specifically, the love of learning. We are natural learners. We are naturally curious. When we are young we want to learn about every and anything. Yet, as we get older – something happens. School becomes a place not where we learn – but where we are educated. And for many, it is at this point that the love of learning is lost.
In a recent blog post, I wrote about how classroom furniture should be seen as an instructional technology. And it should be invested in. I obviously still believe that. But it also has me wondering how we ever got to the point where education overtook learning. When rows became the norm. When we needed to call out ‘active learning’ as revolutionary, rather than it being the norm – as it was in preschool.
I think in it all, it makes me realize (again) that while space and furniture and wall color matter – what matters most is a teacher that can find ways to instill or rejuvenate a love of learning in our students. How amazing would it be if we could create a culture where students came to us ready to be ‘educated’ and ‘job ready’ – but left us as curious, engaged lifelong learners (to be totally cliché). I truly believe that this type of learning can happen literally anywhere. In a fixed classroom. In a flexible classroom. In a classroom with nothing but 4 white walls and a clock.
Just think of what could happen if students walked into a classroom not to be educated, but to learn.