Why should students (or anyone) learn?
This questions is posed by Terry Heick at teachthought. First - I love his definition of 21st century learning: "intimate, self-directed learning experiences that serve authentic physical and digital communities, ultimately leading to personal and social change". In this definition he tells us that learning is not just about personal change and improvement, it is about social change too. To help us understand what learning is about in the context of thinking, Heick gives us 12 questions to get students thinking about their learning and why they should learn in the first place:
- What do I know?
- What am I curious about?
- What questions and answers have those before me created?
- What do those around me need from me?
- What do I need from them?
- What is worth understanding?
- What is the difference between awareness, knowledge, and understanding?
- What are the limits of knowledge?
- How does uncertainty affect me as a thinker?
- What does one “do” with knowledge?
- What does my community–however I define it–require from me, and I from it?
- Why learn?
Source: Heick (2016)
Sometimes when I am asked for advice about what course a prospective student should do, I often respond with just two questions: What do you like?, and What are you good at? These are encapsulated above in more probing questions. The questions above also ask about how a person can learn in the workplace, or in the classroom if applied to students. They might be too hard for a prospective student to answer, but those currently studying at third-level should take a good look at themselves and ask themselves the above questions. The last question (Why learn?) should answer itself if you can answer the previous 11 questions. All educators should read Heick's article - it could lead to what Heick writes: "this kind of thinking just might lead to the innovative, 'different' thinking by a new kind of learner who just has to solve a problem, correct a conflict, or create art ".