Monday, January 25, 2010

Lifelong Learners - Are you one?

This is a common term tossed about in education. You see it in vision statements, read articles that mention it, and teachers say they want their students to be lifelong learners. What does this mean? Well, I think it means you are willing to continue to learn through-out your life. Whether it is school work, new teaching methods, or revised and renamed teaching methods, new techniques for business, interpersonal relationships, work environments, hobby information, health, or computer updates, or just about anything else. Data/facts/information has doubled, doubled, and doubled, and continues to at an amazing rate. We now know we can’t memorize or learn it all, but can learn to search for the information we need. Still, we need to analyze it and put it to use. Whether it is health information on lowering your cholesterol without drugs, or learning to do your job in a new way; it comes down to whether or not you like to learn new things. Attitude plays a big part.

Many people feel confident that they do a good job at work. Sometimes the question arises, “Why should I learn to do it differently when my way works so well?” This is a hurdle for people to overcome. Attitude is important here and can make such a big difference in success. Teachers who have taught in specific ways for several years find comfort in that routine, knowing that it works. Just as companies and assembly lines change their procedures and techniques, so must education. One big question is why do we test students like was done in the 19th century when we live in the 21st century? But that is a question left for another day.

These thoughts come from a person who loves to learn new things –- finds it intriguing and interesting. Back to the teacher who doesn’t want to learn technology, drags his/her feet in using technology – this teacher is the model for not being a lifelong learner. When we say one thing and do another, children and students see that. We need to remember that we don’t know it all and remember that facilitating instruction is a good method for teaching – not the “sage on the stage” that students quickly tune out. Sometimes this attitude can come from administrators who do not like change or technology.

We are very fortunate at our school to have an administration that enjoys using technology and encourages our staff to learn and offers opportunities in safe and comfortable ways. We need to be lifelong learners to function at our best for our students. For ourselves. What new things have you researched or learned recently?

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