Leading the Learning Journey: What do we learn?
Leading a learning journey must be a transparent experience. The leader must be willing to face the status quo, or current state of affairs head on. This takes persistence and practice. The first step is to identify and trend the design and culture in the learning organization or community of learners.
A learning organization is more than just a school. It is a community of learners. In my experience, learning organizations focus on continuous learning that engages all members, but especially students. There are many dimensions to learning worthy of exploration and I want to begin my inquiry by employing practical questions that I would not only want to answer myself, but would want to listen to the responses from the members of the learning community. I want to nurture a learning organization that embraces an innovative design and culture. I begin my messy learning process by answering some questions to build a framework. Starting with the first question, looking at the status quo with the future in mind, in a broad and general sense, it sounds so simple…
What do we learn?
If I asked a teacher this question, what responses would I get? In my thinking, a teacher in a more traditional school model would answer something along the lines of this, “We learn how to teach reading using the new reading series that the district adopted.” In a more innovative school, a teacher may respond by saying, “We are learning to use digital tools in the classroom.” If I asked a student this question in a traditional school model, I would expect to hear something like this, “We are learning math.” In an innovative school model, a student may respond by saying,”We are learning to solve math problems in stations and I have created some of the problems.” The point in my thinking is the notion that the answers would vary according to the school model. There is no one right answer, of course, but, the answer to we learn, is often artificially quantified, for example, using artifacts such as, curriculum, standards, courses, that align to “the final, the state assessment, the test.” What we learn should be so much more. When a parent asks his or her child, what did you learn in school today, the response is too often, “nothing.” Unfortunately, it may be true. I am going to ask this simple question more often.