A trained monkey OR an active learner?

I send my daughter to school mostly for what she can learn in the playground.  I stopped believing long ago that school could teach her the really important skills in life so I look after that at home.  Most of what happens in school is “training” – ramming kids heads full of irrelevant content they are expected to be interested in and retain.  It doesn’t get much better at tertiary level either. Remember how you crammed (trained yourself) for exams only to forget everything once the exam was over?

Real learning takes place in the playground as my daughter is exposed to a variety of personalities and behaviour that she needs to manage and moderate, including her own.  She has learnt leadership, problem solving, negotiation, influence, communication and creativity in the playground.  Skills that will take her through life.

You can imagine how excited I was when I came across this article which looks at real learning and how it can be gained more from interactions with others than from formal lessons.  Read it now and see what you think…

This has implications for workplace learning.  I think the nature of learning is changing in workplaces to involve a more collaborative, participative approach and use of social media is leading the charge.  So, let’s stop using the word “training” and move to a culture where learning is championed and occurs right when you need it in a meaningful way.

Do you consider yourself a learner?

Are you training your children or are you letting them learn?

How does your organisation approach learning and how can you influence that?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:13:01

    What a timely blog as school prepares to return.

    I always thought that ‘training’ was for animals (my cat disagrees)

    Without interest and stimulation real learning does not take place. Long term memories require emotional involvement to ‘bond’ themselves to our consciousness.

    Schools are valuable in creating a baseline but are trapped into serving the lowest common denominator. If you don’t fit that bill-you miss out…


  2. Damon Klotz
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 02:01:31

    I love this post. I know at 22 it’s quite bizarre to think about this sort of thing but quite often I find myself pondering the idea of what the school system will be like when my kids go to school.

    I totally agree about the key learnings happening in the playground as opposed to the classroom. But I was always a little different and subconsciously had a knack of choosing subjects that I not only found interesting but had real life applicability.

    When I was in my senior years of High School I chose subjects that I found interesting and wanted to learn about. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career yet and I wasn’t going to force myself to do advanced Maths and Science classes because then I could have potentially chosen a career path based on those subjects that I didn’t like in the first place! So I happily chose Film & Television, English, Modern History, Economics, Business Organisation and Management. I had the balance of learning knowledge I’d use in my adult life with the people, influencing and negotiation skills I picked up from attending an all boys school.

    It was far from perfect but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I hope when my kids go to school it looks something like this – http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/152/radical-idea-13-build-a-better-classroom.html – and if that doesn’t exist yet then I’ll build it myself!


  3. Collin
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 02:59:52

    It’s true. It seems to lack the basic tenet of preparing kids for life beyond school. It goes two years too long and does little for people who learn differently of aspire to be different.


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