NEWS & EVENTS:

(3) WHO’S DRIVING? : The Learner

Why do we respond to colours and music? Why do we have better memories of something fun, rather than something boring? Why do we do something better after doing it once, rather than by simply reading the instructions?

Learning is innate: we are all born to learn, and we learn continuously through life. We naturally strive to reach our potential, to build on our knowledge, and gain more experience.

To be a life-long learner, we need to realize that this journey of learning is a marathon for life. We are not sprinting for the semester. We don’t learn how to cope with life by memorizing information so why does the education system train us to do that? Students may get good grades, but we need to question, are they being prepared to be life-long learners?

At R.E.A.L, we know that children learn best when they are interested, feel positive about the subject, and can experience the topic, rather than simply read about it.  Classrooms shouldn’t make something that comes naturally, be unnatural. That is why our focus is on learning through transformative experiences. Creating transformative experiences isn’t easy, but at R.E.A.L, we have anchored our learning experience on several principles.

The first is realizing that before a child can learn something, he or she needs to know why they need to learn it. What is the benefit of the information? How can they apply it in their lives? Understanding this is the gateway to engaging a child’s curiosity and sparking interest in the lesson.

Learners at R.E.A.L are given the opportunity to discover for themselves. They identify why an activity is being done in class, understand the learning outcomes, take personal responsibility for achieving those outcomes, and grow to appreciate achievements.

The key point here is that they value the learning experience. They take it on as their own because the learner is the sole owner of the learning process. They are the driver, their learning experience is their vehicle, and their route is life-long.

Children should have control and drive their own learning process. To illustrate this, think about a time when you were driving but all your passengers decided to be the drivers too. They kept telling you how to drive and where to go. You got confused, stressed, and doubted your own driving skills. Perhaps you missed a turn, drove poorly, or even crashed. Put in the learning context, this is how learners may feel and how it can affect their performance.

At R.E.A.L, we believe that teachers and peers are not there to tell the learner what to do, how to do it, or why they should do it. Learners are the driver of their learning process, with their teacher as co-driver and their peers as passengers; all working in collaboration.

We believe that each learner is born naturally curious; by letting that desire to learn be their guide, we see our role as facilitators of the learning journey. We guide the children’s learning experiences but they should actively co-create their learning process with facilitators. Learning cannot be forced, so teachers who dictate won’t succeed.

By letting the children actively co-create their learning process, and having teachers act as facilitators, we allow each child to learn and journey based on their individuality. Learners know what works best for them, what excites them, the best way of retaining information, and what support they need to overcome mistake or challenges.

For the most part, learners are autonomous and self-directed. They develop their own thoughts and interests, and should be allowed to work on projects that reflect them. Learners also progress at different pace and circumstances, so it is necessary for learners to have some control over their self-learning.

If we can trust them with their learning, they start to take responsibility for their learning outcomes. That responsibility is translated into a voluntary effort to learn. The best way for children to learn is by relating to what is around them. They find practical use of knowledge by relating to their experiences, their knowledge, and their memory. It is the experience that turns information into knowledge.

Applying that knowledge helps them retain it and more than that, helps them make new connections. Something they learnt as a child, applied to a science project, using skills they learnt in English, recollecting the physics discovered through sports, plus how they managed to pull off a prank on a friend, who knows? Learning is everywhere!

Children have often surprised adults in how they are able to apply knowledge they gained somewhere else! At R.E.A.L, we strive to nurture learners who can take a science project and turn it into a series of connections and applications of different concepts they have learnt. Their interest in learning new things is heightened when they can connect ideas and concepts. This enables them to see learning in a new light and that excitement reenergizes them, providing the drive to keep learning.

One of the most important things for us as educators is that our children experience learning with fun. It’s a tough balancing act between getting results and making learning fun. But clearly, how we feel affects how we learn. When students feel good about the class, the school, their friends, their teachers, and get excited about learning, they learn better and perform better. Their emotions fuel their vehicle of learning experiences which translates to performance. Fun and good grades aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s quite simple: feel better, learn better, perform better.

When we focus on each child being their own driver, we are also sending a message to them that they are valued as a person. They are not just a number in class or a grade to add to the school’s statistics. We get to know who they are, how they learn, and how we can help. Their self-esteem is a significant part of the learning journey because it says, “You are unique. You are full of potential. This is your journey. You go where you want to go and we are here to help you get there.”

It’s not just the students who learn in this process; the teacher has a lot to learn from the students – they are learners too. The route is life-long and we are all on our own journey regardless of age.

As educators and parents, we are tasked with the responsibility to help each child experience their journey. At R.E.A.L, we recognize that each learner’s individuality has to be addressed if we are to help them realize their fullest potential. By realizing who’s driving the learning, we are transforming learning journeys.

 

7 LEARNER PRINCIPLES:

  1. Understand why you’re learning.
  2. Have control and drive your learning process.
  3. Co-create your learning experience with facilitators.
  4. Turn information into knowledge, and knowledge into practical use.
  5. Connect knowledge gained from anywhere.
  6. Experience learning with fun!
  7. Be valued as an individual.