I had my first day in Year 4 yesterday. I am lucky enough to be in their for a full day on a Friday as the usual teacher runs the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program. As it is their first week, we were working through a range of activities associated with setting up the classroom environment for learning.
One of the activities that we did was to look at “Why do we come to school?” In order to go deeper with our thinking, we did the ‘five whys’ where students were required to answer the question five times, each time elaborating on the last response. Once they had spent some time coming up with answers, I got each student to share on a sticky note the one response that they felt represented them the most.
As we grouped the different responses, four themes appeared:
- To gain for knowledge
- To get a better job
- To live a better life
- To develop friendships
Having been reading a lot about heutagogy lately, the practise of self-determined learning, the response that was missing was to ‘learning how to learn’. Although some, such as Stewart Hase, assert that we are heutgogical learners from the start, others, such as Lisa Marie Blaschke, suggest that becoming self-determined learners is better understood as being a part of a Pedegogical-Andragogy-Heutagogy (PAH) continuum. (For more information, see Experiences in Self-Determined Learning). Interestingly, Blashke suggests that, “if we are to help students become heutagogical learners, we must apply heutagogical practices with younger students early on, while at the same time working toward emancipating those who have become industrialized learners and continue to “learn-to-the-test”. In her chapter, she provides a range of strategies, such as:
- Let learners choose what they will learn and how they will learn it.
- Encourage learners to explore
- Be a guide on the side (or a meddler in the middle)
- Allow learners to learn from each other
- Help learners understand the process of how they learn
What I was curious about though was at which point does a student say that they come to school to ‘learn how to learn?’ Robert Schuetz talks about the entrepreneurial mindset as being counter to what Yong Zhao describes as ‘Employment-Orientated Learning’, while in a recent episode of the TER Podcast capturing some presentations from a Teachmeet in Sydney, Jon Andrews shared how he had introduced heutagogical learning across his whole school from P-12. Even though Andrews shared his young daughters understanding of design thinking and how she can use such practises across all her learning, the question that remains is when they become conscious of this. That is, when do students make the metacognitive connection that they do not come to school to learn ideas and information that may not even be relevant in a few years time, but instead come to learn how to learn?
Just wondering. As always, your thoughts are welcomed.
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Why Do You Come to School? by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.