Learning Must be Useful

I had an amazing experience at MACUL, Michigan’s largest (over 5,000 attendees) Technology in Learning conference.  Every year I attend I try to come away with a few things that I learned or verify what I am currently doing to connect the learning to my students. This year, I came away with three big things.

Big Takeaway #1 – Information has no value!

The way school  is still run in many, many classroom around the country (“I will tell you a bunch of information and you will regurgitate it back on a test”) has very little value and does students no good to prepare them for their future, unless they are going to be on Jeopardy. Students can find information very quickly. For example, to answer the very complex question “Why were Native Americans removed by Congress along the “Trail of Tears”? they can find the who, what, when, where and how information very quickly through a basic Google search. But what is done with that knowledge can change much bigger things. It can help students understand societies behavior and how things are done in the very complex, ever-changing world.jaime casap

Big Takeaway #2 – Everyone learns in their own way, let them show that learning in their own way

I need to teach students how to think in their own way and not just learn “my way.” Everyone has something valuable to contribute, I need to be okay with as many “ways of learning” as there are learners. Let my students show me what they know in their own way.

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Big Takeaway #3 – We need to build learning & thinking skills!

In Tony Wagner’s book, Global Achievement Gap, he lists 7 survival skills students need for their future (see below).  I verified my teaching style. I have had this gut feeling for a long time that I need to build students’ survival skills using content & curriculum to put those skills into practice. Why? In the bar chart below, there is a gap between the skills necessary to succeed in the future careers and the skills potential employees enter with from their schooling.

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skills chart

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4 thoughts on “Learning Must be Useful

  1. Love this post! I could not agree more with all of your points. One thought I would add from my own experience at MACUL would be that students need to fail and that it is ok to let them fail. Failure allows students the ability to try again in a new way, from a new perspective, to take what they have learned and imagine, build, create and discover more possibilities. Failure is another word for SUCCESS! – unknown

  2. Mr. Kipling

    Thank you for your response. I appreciate it and I completely agree that certain information is useless to some people and useful to others. The 7 skills listed in my post are what we should be focusing on and stop trying to make learning about information retention. Maybe that is what I am trying to say. Thank you for your dialogue, I am glad you shared your viewpoint and disagreement with me.

  3. Reba Koratich

    I think that while these skills are important, you must have know something to be able to put these skills to use. I somewhat disagree with what you said in your post, the information we learn is useless until we can apply it to something. I think that just because you don’t use the information in your life, someone else probably will. The reason we are learning what we learn in class is because somewhere in someone else’s life, they found it useful. Somewhere in the past people were like “wow, communicating is awesome” so currently schools teach us English and other languages. Not everyone is going to do the same thing when they enter the work force, so schools have to cater to everyone. Certain information will be useless to me but of great value to the person sitting next to me. No information is useless, it is just more important to some than to others.

  4. Susan Negen

    As a business owner and employer I can state unequivocally that those seven survival skills are right on the money – AND we have to teach them to almost all employees. They aren’t coming out of their education with those skills for the most part.

    Keep up the great work you are doing with YOUR students!!

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