Thursday, February 2, 2012

Learning - Be creative, ask why

Not that I have any kind of formal education on the subject, but how people learn is a fascinating topic. In my opinion school systems, colleges, and many other educational avenues teach kids to memorize, not learn. The school system teaches kids to show up, memorize, do as they're told, and avoid creative thinking. Ivan and I talk about this a lot and still aren't sure what we'll do when Alexander starts school. Plenty of time to worry about that, so it seems.

Schools focus on scores too much, not the actual outcome. I know plenty of teachers who could help students learn the subject, but have restrictions on what they can and can't do and how they do it. I would rather have students who can intellectually talk about a subject than ones who cram to get good grades then forget the information not even a week later. Which do you prefer? Would you want your child to know and understand information or get good grades. Technically, you want both, but what if you could only choose one? I wonder how the school system will evolve over the next decade? I hope it gets better for everyone involved.

So how do we learn? We can learn a lot from children. Have you ever paid attention to a baby or toddler when they are learning something new? You can almost see the wheels turning in their head. They try something and if it doesn't work they try it again. They take risks and don't care if they do it wrong or look silly doing it. They are curious and ask why. When do they stop this? When adults make them stop. Parents, teachers, everyone. We teach them to be ashamed of  making mistakes. We should be teaching them to learn from them. Be creative, take risks, and if you fail you need to learn from it. Everything in us wants to, but everything within our entire system says to just follow the path and don't think for yourself, don't be creative. Memorize and get good grades and you'll go far. I really don't think that's true.

For those of you who got good grades, how far did it get you? I had great grades throughout school and college, but it doesn't really have anything to do with where I'm at today. I came up with ideas, sometimes worked by myself, sometimes with others, used creative thinking, took risks, and asked why. Because of this I have presented multiple times, been asked to write columns, joined committees, helped others create classes, and taught and mentored other librarians. I have taken risks that haven't paid off and I've made mistakes, but I have learned from them and learned how to use them to benefit me. I have only been in my profession a little over 3 years and have achieved more than I ever thought I could. Now, to be honest, part of this is also because of the confidence Ivan has given me. He has always believed in me and supported me in my educational and professional decisions. What risks have you taken? What creative ideas have you put in place? Have you ever made a mistake, but learned from it to come out on top?

Maybe one day I'll have a better grasp of this topic. Maybe I'll get my PhD, write a thesis on this topic, then change the education system. It all depends on how I learn.

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