Learning vs Schooling

This is superb account of the flaws in conventional school education: What the modern world has forgotten about children and learning. It’s really worth reading in full.

Essentially, it says that our understanding of how children learn is skewed by imagining that what happens in schools is a good guide. The school system influenced by industrial models introduces unnatural pressures to learn in a linear fashion. It’s out of kilter with the way we, as mammals, have learnt and developed through almost all of our history on earth:

It is in this context that we set out to research how human beings learn. But collecting data on human learning based on children’s behavior in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behavior at Sea World.

This worldview too easily ignores the diversity of learning approaches among children, falsely classifying many perfectly able children as in some way disordered.

When you see children who do not learn well in school, they will often display characteristics that would be valued and admired if they lived in any number of traditional societies around the world. They are physically energetic; they are independent; they are sociable; they are funny. They like to do things with their hands. They crave real play, play that is exuberant, that tests their strength and skill and daring and endurance; they crave real work, work that is important, that is concrete, that makes a valued contribution. They dislike abstraction; they dislike being sedentary; they dislike authoritarian control. They like to focus on the things that interest them, that spark their curiosity, that drive them to tinker and explore.

I see similar mistakes made in training of adults in organisations. The need to standardise and measure leads to a dreary approach to learning, that denies participants the real joy of discovery. Things are over-explained and under-experienced. Often, the only nod to diversity is the recitation of discredited pigeon-holing models that tell us we are one 16 neat and tidy “types”.

Hat tip: Ron Donaldson via Facebook

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