{ Rethinking the Nature of Learning, Conclusion } From MFA to K-12

meaning-karinstormwoodFor this thesis project, I surprinted and bound
50 pages of messy but enthusiastic grad school notes (left) and
500 pages of impeccably neat high school notes (right).

{ Previously: IntroductionPart IPart II, Part III, and Part IV }

I’ll conclude the narrative of how design school led me to rethink the nature of learning by recapping some key perspectives I’ve developed along the way. I’ll also note how I hope to apply them K-12 education here at rethinked…*

1 — There are two paradoxical truths about learning that must be kept in equilibrium:

Learning often involves a degree of anxiety because there is something at stake. However, learning cannot thrive sustainably if that anxiety isn’t mitigated.

Does this construct accurately capture the experiences of K12 learners? If not, how might we develop a more accurate construct for understanding the emotional and learning experiences of our students?

2 — Learners deserve help in developing mindsets and strategies designed to overcome or sidestep anxieties associated with learning

Metacognitive strategies taught in study-skills classes address this. How can such strategies be mainstreamed across the curriculum more effectively? How might the need for such mainstreaming be most effectively communicated to educators and parents?

3 — Learning has more to do with having and asking questions than having and giving answers. In this respect it’s important to consider the distinction between learning and schooling.

How can this message — not to mention inquiry-based learning itself — coexist meaningfully with schools’ need for assessment? How might student inquiry — curiosity, risk-taking, and innovation — be empirically assessed?

4 — Winning formulas for success in the (mostly) predictable academic challenges of school do not always reflect winning formulas for success in the unpredictable environment of life.  

A key mission of character education is to prepare students for success in the broadest sense. To what extent do students at schools committed to character education believe in the importance of character? To what extent do such students believe in the importance of character? Are such students motivated to meet character expectations? In what ways does motivation differ from students’ motivation to meet academic expectations?

I invite you to share your perspectives in the comments.

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