The Promise of Learning

A parent of a student once said to me, “When you have your own children, you begin to think about learning in a very different way.” At the time, I sensed that was obviously true, but she was right…you can’t really feel it in your soul until you have your own kids. I find myself thinking more about this lately as my son, who is 7, has begun his march through formal schooling. It can be a bumpy process when the sifting and sorting mechanism kicks into gear, and instructional efficiency begins to rule the day.

It has made me think – perhaps more than I should – about the promise of learning and what it means to teach…really teach. It is about way more than content and curriculum delivery…at least it should be. It should be about caring for individuals and recognizing that there are many paths to learning. As teachers, we sometimes lose sight of this…or trade it for some higher ideal.

What is your promise for learning?

It’s an interesting question…and I find myself asking it more often…as a parent.

Which is why I found this site of a Swedish primary school to be so interesting. On their site they outline their learning promises…simple perhaps, but I found them inspirational:

Vittra gives every individual the opportunity…

  • to find the best approach for them
    Children play and learn on the basis of their needs, curiosity and inclination in the best ways possible.
  • to learn based on experience
    Children’s learning is based on their experience which increases motivation and inspires creativity.
  • to understand their own learning
    Children are equipped with the tools to acquire new knowledge and increase understanding of ‘How I learn’, which enables them to learn more easily and effectively in the future.
  • to have faith in themselves and their abilities
    Children become more self-aware, aware of their strengths and potential for development which means they dare and like to be challenged.
  • to develop their ability to communicate and engage in respectful interaction with others
    Children understand and are considerate to the needs and interests of others, they can express and stand for their own views as well as take responsibility for their actions.
  • to be equipped for study and work in an international environment
    Children develop effective bilingualism in English and Swedish while experiencing and creating international contacts through networks and exchange programmes abroad.

I don’t know about you, but its not often I see a K-12 school – anywhere in the U.S at least – making any kind of promises about learning. One thing for sure, I have never seen a college or university make these kinds of promises about learning for students who enroll in their programs and courses. I wonder if it would make a difference? A difference in how we teach….