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Learning and Inspiration 

 

We believe that effective learners:

Ask meaningful questions

questions which connect their experience to the world

questions which further/extend their own learning

This presumes a constructivist view of human understanding, where new information is assimilated into an existing cognitive scheme based upon a human being’s prior experience.

Developing sophistication in asking meaningful questions allows a learner to construct further knowledge independently.

We believe that as effective teachers:

We value who our students are (now) - we get to know them and what makes them tick
We guide their inquiry and support their efforts in that direction
We model those things we want from them and demonstrate the merit of those things

                This is a prescription for inquiry-based learning and pastoral care as a core element of our curriculum

We believe that effective learners:

Are metacognitive about themselves as learners

They examine their own learning
They reflect on their learning
They adjust their learning based upon their reflections

Metacognition occurs when someone’s learning processes and attitudes themselves become the objects of their consideration.  In this condition of heightened self-awareness a student understands his or her individual learning styles (their strengths and weaknesses) and adapts them in order to assimilate new information or to develop new skills.

We believe that as effective teachers:

We make the processes and products of learning visible to all
We help students to understand the merits of self awareness about their own learning
We help them identify the stages of a learning process, to analyze their own performance with respect to each stage of the process and to formulate goals for improvement on the basis of that analysis
We help them to understand perspectives and paradigms
We help them to understand bias and situatedness

This is a prescription for self assessment and reflection

We believe that effective learners:

Transfer learning to new contexts

Recognize patterns
Analyze, synthesize and evaluate
Make learning connections
Create and innovate

Contexts can be of all varieties -- physical, social, intellectual, etc.  Authentic learning is not bound to the place in which it first occurs, but extends itself in novel ways, applying itself in disciplines and situations where it has not been exercised before.  Indeed, simply moving to a new context is innovation (even if it is not innovative, in the colloquial sense of the word)

We believe that as effective teachers:

We help students to understand the abstract, fluid and multi-varied nature of contexts
We offer stimuli that invite comparison
We model the creation of dimensions of comparison (common terms of reference)
We help students to understand the relationship between parts and wholes
We help them to understand the nature and use of value judgements
We help them to understand the arbitrary nature of traditional disciplinary boundaries and to transcend them

This is a prescription for interdisciplinarity and critical thinking 

We believe that effective learners:

Take risks

Do not fear mistakes
Exhibit resilience
Engage with challenges independently
Make decisions on their own
Show initiative

Taking risks involves a willingness to venture into new contexts while knowing that they hold the possibility of failure.  Learners calculate the risks that accompany uncertainty and view new contexts as opportunities rather than threats.

We believe that as effective teachers:

We help students to see error as a desirable feature in the learning process
We help them to appreciate their responsibility for their own learning
We provide learning environments that encourage experimentation and exploration
We value and celebrate the results of learning
We must help students to understand that education is a process and not a product

This is a prescription for assessment which enhances learning (assessment for learning) more than it categorizes or reports it (assessment of learning)

We believe that effective learners:

Demonstrate their learning (to themselves—metacognitively—and others)

Explain, exhibit and show
Apply their learning to transform an environment/context

This demonstration is a deliberate presentation of one’s understanding. Learners may reveal their learning through any medium which may be used to communicate.

We believe that as effective teachers:

We help our students to see communication about learning as a part of the learning process
We make the processes and products of learning visible to all
We recognize that learning may demonstrate itself in many different ways
We value and celebrate the results of learning
We use education to empower action
We help students to understand the importance of action
We help students to identify opportunities to act
We help students apply their learning to act in a variety of contexts and media

This is a prescription for integrated service learning as a core element of our curriculum