Tuesday 01 Dec 2020

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Learning Principle N°10: All learning is personal

Version française ICI

Article by Dr Karen L. Taylor, Director of Education and of the Institute of Learning and Teaching, Ecolint

You may be surprised to find that I begin this series of articles with the last of the ten Learning Principles rather than the first. And yet it is the last that encapsulates the essence of what precedes it and, more importantly, captures what lies at the core of Ecolint’s mission and vision.

We respect students’ individual and cultural identities, encouraging them to become
independent learners eager to carry on learning throughout their lives
 (https://www.ecolint.ch/overview/our-mission).

Ecolint's Statement on Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, asserts that

We embrace diversity and honour the unique voice and personal experience of all
members of our community. We recognize the power of each individual to bring new
perspectives and understanding to the learning experience of all. In honouring a
multiplicity of voices and demonstrating respect for each individual we sustain meaningful discourse. 

We pride ourselves on being an inclusive school which, in our richly diverse context, means engaging in culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy, a pedagogy that is equally sensitive to neurodiversity. 

Inclusion and respect for diversity are thus at the heart of our institutional identity and rest on the fundamental belief in the personal and individualized nature of the learning process. 

Our professional stance as educators is one that perceives cultural, linguistic and neurodiversity not as a problem to overcome, but rather as an opportunity for learning that enriches the experience of both students and teachers and the ultimate aim of which is an education for social justice (Akkari, A. & Radhouane, M.,  2019, p. 225). It is in modelling such a stance that we will succeed in “Educating students to be global citizens with the courage and capacity to create a just and joyful tomorrow together.”

We see ourselves as a community of learners encompassing both children and adults and we recognize the capacity of each individual to engage in a meaningful and personally challenging learning journey. We believe that a profound understanding of the conditions necessary for deep learning leads naturally to high quality teaching. Consequently, our classroom practice is based on ten evidence based principles of learning drawn from a wide range of current research in education, cognitive and social psychology and neurobiology, all of which contribute to deepen our understanding of how human beings acquire and retain knowledge to make meaning of their world. These principles are at the core of all that we do in each of the curricular frameworks offered in our schools (Ecolint Definition of High Quality Learning and Teaching (2020)). They necessarily have implications for teaching practices and this is something that I will continue to explore in these monthly articles.

Encouraging students to become independent learners

George Couros offers three reasons why learning is personal: 

  • Each person has their own experiences and acquired knowledge (past).
  • Each person creates their own connections to content based on the reason mentioned above (present).
  • What interests each person biases what they are interested in learning moving forward (future). https://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/6005

We often talk about the importance of checking for prior knowledge before delving into a new subject. Doing so allows us to understand where students are in their learning and in consequence to modify our practice to meet their needs. As practitioners, an awareness of the ways in which learning is personal and individual means that we engage in teaching practices that 

  • promote self-efficacy in learners
  • contribute to intrinsic motivation by responding to our students’ natural curiosity and passions
  • promote student voice and agency and
  • provide opportunities for metacognitive thinking, self-reflection and self-assessment.

The Learning Principles serve collectively as reminders of the cognitive processes and environmental and affective factors to which we need to be attentive in order to create the best possible learning environment for children, each of whom is on their own personal learning journey.

Works consulted

  • Akkari, A., & Radhouane, M. (2019). Les approches interculturelles en éducation: Entre théorie et pratique. Presses de l'université Laval.
  • Bandura, A. (2012). Self-efficacy the exercise of control. Freeman.
  • Benassi, V., et al. (2014). Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. Society for the Teaching of Psychology.
  • Gay, G. (2018). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. Teachers college Press.
  • George. (2016, January 30). 3 Reasons Why All Learning is Personal. Retrieved from https://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/6005
  • Our Mission. (2018, November 21). Retrieved from https://www.ecolint.ch/overview/our-mission
  • Pajares, F. (1996). Self-Efficacy Beliefs in Academic Settings. Review of Educational Research, 66(4), 543-578. doi:10.3102/00346543066004543
  • Pintrich, P. R. (2002). The Role of Metacognitive Knowledge in Learning, Teaching, and Assessing. Theory Into Practice, 41(4), 219-225. doi:10.1207/s15430421tip4104_3

Read also : 

Learning Principle N°1: Learning occurs at various levels of complexity

Learning Principle N°2: Solving meaningful problems and transferring knowledge across domains contributes to deep learning