Enjoying Learning…and Learning to Learn

Pgs. 9-10

Instead of creating educational “systems” that supposedly offer learning as an investment in the “future”, as a way to get ahead of someone else, as a one-way “ticket” out of economic and social privation (all opportunistic ideas…external, comparative advantages)…why not help the individual to discover the joy of learning itself. You give a child, I think, when you give this joyless, driven concept of the traditional “treadmill” meaning of learning (the conveyor belt theme…jump on, keep up, don’t fall off and be a loser), in which the student must urgently fit into or adapt to the “system”…instead of the system being flexible enough to adapt to all students as unique individuals.

Why must education be viewed as a primarily disagreeable thing? Why do so many kids dislike school? Why do so many teachers dislike being in the classroom? Why is our dropout (and cheating!) rates so alarmingly noticeable? Isn’t school a pleasant and worthwhile place to be? Why is it seen as something between a medicine and a punishment that must be administered to its unwilling little subjects (by harassed, unenthusiastic directions) for their own good…no matter how they howl! It is”not supposed to be fun!” “Children can not be expected to like learning.” “The benefits will show themselves at a later date: trust me!” we tell them.

Teaching the child the joy of learning is an incomparable and invaluable gift that we can offer, and we can enjoy the process as well, as vibrant teachers who enjoy the business of teaching and guiding…and learning. The sharing process of learning is limitless…to explore, to discover, to learn, to be surprised, to be curious enough to continue learning throughout one’s life.

The “fun” of learning does not imply making a senseless game of education, teaching things not worth knowing. The fun of learning comes from the environment, planning, and enthusiasm which we provide as teachers and guides. Everyone who has ever been lucky enough to have known one great teacher, as a child, knows what I mean, being in the care of someone who knew what good teaching is about. If we can provide this kind of learning atmosphere, the material and competitive benefits will later follow, and the deeper benefits of enjoying the art and practice of learning will continue throughout the lives of our students…long after they leave our schools.


Pgs. 10-12

How can a teacher use time to the best advantage, to increase actual class time spent on a learning activity, a curriculum-related activity? Here are a few suggestions, none of which are new or profound…but they offer a few hints for organizing one’s time so that the teacher will have more control over ow students use time in their classes.

1) Treat time as an important resource, a precious factor in the process of learning. Being prepared to start at the beginning of a class will provide a much higher rate of student time on actual activities.

2) Define individual and class goals clearly. Spend time both explaining and devising goals, either those you set for the students or those which are set together. Posted goals seem especially important to students entering a classroom; they can refer to them individually, especially if working on independent assignments. They help to initiate the work, and also maintain a smooth flow of activity. Less time is spent waiting for the teacher to give them thier next direction. They become self-directed.

3) Plan and organize activities in advance. when the necessary supplies and equipment are on hand and in working order, students had to wait less…and the teacher can feel relaxed and ready to work.

4) Use a wider range of teaching techniques. Time spent on learning activities is greater, and more effective, when the teacher is flexible and comfortable with several methods of approaching an activity. All students do not respond well to the same techniques. Of course not…as individuals, they perceive differently, listen differently, and understand on different levels. One technique may trigger one youngster’s understanding, while another technique may be necessary for another youngster. Directions, demonstrations, examples, asking students to feed back what they have heard, discussions, other suggested techniques offered by students, audio-visual aids, or other methods help a teacher to be flexible…and meet the learning needs of more students. Variety is healthy.

5) Have positive and reasonable expectations, and provide positive reinforcement. Being negative can immediately discourage students from trying. Students who were regarded positively and told they haad pleased the teacher and others, are more likely to spend time on activities than those students who are not encouraged, or do not feel good about the work they are doing.

6) Encourage independent work. Students who are forced to depend on teachers for instruction every step of the way…not only lose time, but opportunity, for self-direction, to explore alternative, methods to develop confidence in their own judgment, and to take command over their own work. (A good teacher/guide does himself out of a job, eventually passing all teaching on to the now-capable student…who can become his/her own teacher.)

7) Assign meaningful, worthwhile work. When the students understand the value of the activity, time spent is more effective. Students are generally more apt to work better if the activity involves a challenge rather than one which merely occupies their time (“busy work”).

8) Minimize scheduled class breaks. In classes where students take individual as opposed to whole-class breaks, there is considerably less time spent on breaks.

9) Decrease outside interruptions: you can assert the right to do so. Learning time can be decreased by interruptions, although…if dealt with quickly and lightly…this can be minimized.

10) Provide a good role model. If the teacher is obviously enthusiastic, the students, will be influenced to work better too. Competence, organization, and commitment to goals…all impress students, and provide them a model of good work habits.

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