Monday, September 9, 2013

What did you learn today?

Imagine sitting at the supper table, when the question is asked “what did you learn today?”

Not what homework do you have to do? Or how did you do on that test/report/presentation? But ‘what did you learn?’

Interesting differentiation. How would our society, our schools, be different if we focused on learning rather than on to-do-lists and grades?

I recently read a first-person essay about a grandfather who would always ask everyone who joined him for the evening meal – “What did you learn today?” The family would then learn from each other and enjoy a lively discussion about a wide range of topics.

This year, Bluffton faculty is suspending the typical faculty governance work to focus as a group on Student Learning and Engagement. Rather than discussing curriculum changes, new majors and/or classes; faculty meetings will be a discussion of the common reading of “What the Best College Teachers Do.” 

Professors will then be challenged to select one class to incorporate some new/different techniques as a ‘lab.’ Changes could be as simple as required one-on-one office visits to discuss projects, or as dramatic as a different presentation style - all with the goal of increasing student learning and engagement.

What did you learn today? It will be a new way to look at education for many of us. Similar to the way counting blessings at the end of the day helps one be aware of the blessings which may otherwise go unnoticed.

I can just imagine sitting down with my family now and asking “what did you learn today?” Let’s just say crickets would be chirping. I also imagine if this was a family tradition, I could see my 12-year-old self being excited to share and discuss some new-to-me nugget of knowledge, or see my 40-some-year-old self being excited to hear and discuss some new-to-them nugget of knowledge with my nieces and nephew.

So… What did you learn today?

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