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Do we do enough on educating How to Learn?

Posted by jturner56 on January 20, 2015

My interest in this question was piqued by the UK Open University’s Innovating Pedagogy list for 2014, which included Learning How to Learn as an innovation whose time had come.

This made me think, how well in education do we help our students learn how to learn….and is this important? Not a new question, as Alvin Toffler postulated in 1971, “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Is this a school thing? Or do/should we just set up our students to take this on once they mature beyond their school years?

The Open University seems to be more interested in adult learning’s (andragogy) relationship to heutagogy (learning to learn). Perhaps it could have also looked more into Novak and Gowin’s (1984) examination of learning how to learn, that highlighted the affective considerations (that also formed part of Bloom’s Learning Taxonomies.)

Lisa Blaschke (2012) has some helpful insights into capacity building for self-directed learning. She points to Web 2.0 as an instrument requiring and supporting heutagogy. Design elements for developing such approaches are listed:

  • learner defined learning contracts
  • flexible curriculum
  • learner-directed questions
  • flexible and negotiated assessment

Me, I’m just a practical educator interested in what we should do regarding students who see ‘means to an end’ learning as a desired school educational pathway. Perhaps complemented by check box teaching. (described by the OU as “single-loop thinking that involves reacting to events, solving a problem in a familiar way and accepting information at face value.” (p21)).

As Bernard Bull highlights in his primer on pedagogy, andragogy and heutagogy, in the digital age heutagogy is needed to move learners beyond teacher-centric attitudes to leverage the vast resources now available to facilitate lifelong learning.

Where lies you school in this?


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