Jeff L
  • Jeff L
  • Madison, WI
  • United States


This conversation is closed.

We should teach kids how to learn. We should teach kids how to teach.When they can do both well they graduate. Just informing is not enough.

We spend to much time trying to get kids to understand and retain a core curriculum of information. We should be spending that time trying to create a love of learning.

Life long learner are far more successful and valuable to the world then those that believe they are done after their primary education. Am I wrong? Is there a reason why this is not our primary focus in the early ages?

I have my views on this, I want to know what the TED community thinks about it.

Closing Statement from Jeff L

It was great to see the insightful and dynamic conversation taking place on this subject. I am encourage to see that there is traction for the idea of teaching and learning by understanding what each means to us as individuals. The more educators we have the better our education. The easier to disseminate what techniques should be passed on and what techniques should not.

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    Dec 7 2013: 'It is incumbent of all students and educators to collaboratively and constructively challenge how and all that is taught, towards the goal of refining the methodology used to teach and the understanding of the subject matter in question.'

    This is a philosophy I put forward. I use it when I teach and I find that it empowers my students by making them aware of the importance of staying curious, taking responsible control of the questions and sharing unique (and therefore invaluable) perspectives. Every lecture becomes an incredible double loop learning experience.
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      Jeff L

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      Dec 10 2013: Wayne,
      Well said, but I'm curious, what type of techniques do you disseminate in oder to help students retain the information they are eagerly learning. Is it just mere curiosity that aids in the learning process or do you show them the best techniques to understand and retain?
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        Dec 22 2013: Hello Jeff,

        Curiosity is not enough. Attitude, imagination and motivation, as well as invested skill and knowledge are what I consider the crucial assets necesarry. If I may elaborate:

        After the requisit ice breakers and not necessarily in the same order every time, I begin my first lesson with a conversation ment to entrench the idea that you commented on. learning is for me a team sport so I make sure they are comfortable with the idea that although I might lead the group most of the time, the best leaders know when to follow.

        In order to do this I present an exercise that encourages each member in the group to embody and articulate what attitudes ( or philosophy etc.) communicates for them a meaningful sense of assertive collaboration. This with some guidance;

        1) makes evident and concrete our shared MOTIVATION, which is to learn.

        2) A discussion follows where, collectively, we share SKILLS. The best rules of conduct respecting how and when we should 'act'tually collaborate or, if necessary, work alone, are established and put into practice.

        3) we share KNOWLEDGE . Explaining (exploring) our unique perspectives provides all present a more complete or global understanding of any problem. I believe, it also gives each individual the opportunity and encouragement to use their initiative and shine.

        Hope this helped, cheers!
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          Jeff L

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          Dec 23 2013: I absolutely love it!! You learned that, and you teach it. Exactly what I'm talking about. The hope is that they will then pass it on.
  • Dec 4 2013: Jeff,

    Consider the following a key bias to deal with :
    Children that were not performing well have some kind of learning disability.

    Note that the focus centers on the children having a learning disability rather than the teachers having a teaching disability. Of course many of the problematic learning disabled are just bored and need something to do .

    I heard a talk about there being two kinds of people the ones with a disability and the ones who have not discovered their disability.

    The gift of dyslexia shifts the notion of having a disability to simply having a singularly unique way of seeing stuff (maybe even an asset). Yea things will get mixed up and one better have the abilities to ensure that doesn't become a real problem. A boss once told me that if the program depended on the humans to get it right and could not handle the human errors well that it was worthless. In other words have procedures to validate key information before proceeding and have procedures to handle and correct errors. Of course to some a slight change collapse their whole structure... What really helped me out involved realizing that I needed to learn how to learn and that others may show the way while I had to walk it myself. It also helped to play a game where I basically did a coordinate transformational map that took what the teacher showed transformed and translated it into something I worked with and then translated and transformed the solution back into teachers land. In other words had to figure out how to do it my way while ensuring it was right and the give it back in the form the teacher wanted it.

    That is what I need it to be to learn it though I still had to provide the answer in the form the teacher expected it...
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    Nov 29 2013: I think part of teaching how to learn should be teaching how to be curious. As education progresses, curiosity diminishes. It becomes less and less acceptable to be fascinated with new ideas. By creating curiosity, we would be creating love of learning. And education would be much nicer if the reasons students go through it are for love of learning, not fear of failure. Of course this is just an ideology, but getting closer to it would naturally create more success, since the students themselves would finally be fueling it, not just the tools that force them. I'm not sure how exactly curiosity would be created, but it doesn't need to be created if it's recognized from an early age, and left alone.
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    Nov 28 2013: I spent the first part of my life readng and thinking I knew how to read. When I was studying at the University, I lived one of the luckiest moments of my life, because I had a (great) teacher who really teach to me how to read. Until this moment I had read hundreds of books, but afther this course/year, I read in a different way. That teacher really made me different. He taught me HOW to read. I'll never forget him.
    In my opinion, informing it's not enough. How to learn, how to teach, how to treat information (today is so abundant..) how to get our own opinion, how to sintetize and priorize sutff, matters, topic, notes, etc. All these are, in my opinion, some of the most important skills everybody should adquire, the sooner, the better.
    Good question that yours. Let's fight for a better education: it's the basis of a better future.
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    Nov 28 2013: Hi Jeff,
    Kids seem to be naturally curious and eager to learn most of the time, and this is something we can learn from them. I think we need to encourage a love of learning in the little kids, AND the big adult kids, because as you insightfully is beneficial to individuals and our global community to be a life long teacher/student.

    I have heard some teachers say that there is not enough time to encourage and support every single child in their classroom, so they have to teach to the group as a whole, and sometimes kids on either end of the learning spectrum may get left out.

    I have also seen many teachers teach to individuals, as well as the whole class very successfully, so it appears that it takes awareness and skill on the part of the teacher to be able to do this.
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    Nov 26 2013: In my experience, since about 1990 your very popular idea has become a major focus in education- creating an environment , often described as a community of learners, in which students can learn to learn independently and within community, to reflect on their learning, and to assist others in learning. Constructivist, hands-on, and inquiry-based learning very much embody this aim.

    Those who believe in shoveling information into heads top down are, I think, by now a small minority in pre-K through 12 schooling in the US. What do you see in Madison?.
    • Nov 30 2013: Fritzie,

      How was this implemented in your school district?
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        Nov 30 2013: This would require too long an explanation to address comprehensively. A couple of components, though, are curriculum selection and professional development. For example, probably the most popular text materials are designed for a constructivist, inquiry-oriented classroom in which kids pursue questions together in groups of two to four with the teacher circulating around the room, listening to groups at work and asking questions, followed by a whole class plenary for sharing findings. I have taught math and science.

        In terms of pedagogy, continuing professional development is not just a district requirement but is also required to maintain a teaching credential. In the district where I taught secondary school, the professional development required of teachers was about using curriculum materials for such collaborative inquiry and how to facilitate discourse among students.

        I taught in an ordinary resource-challenged urban district with a very demographically diverse student body.

        At my son's school, which is not in my old district, they use a style of instruction called the Harkness Method. You can look that up, as it is well known. I could not have taught by that method, because my classes typically had 28-32 students.
        • Nov 30 2013: thanks - it is a starting point
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      Jeff L

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      Dec 3 2013: Madison is having big problems. Thank you for your input.
  • Dec 1 2013: "We should teach kids how to learn. We should teach kids how to teach."- I propose a small change.
    We should show kids how to learn. We should show kids how to show other kids.

    "Attraction is the best teacher"- Keith W Henline

    Good work Jeff... I believe you are on the right track
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    Dec 1 2013: I think imparting the mindset of eagerness of learning is the most important part.
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      Jeff L

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      Dec 3 2013: What is a eagerness to learn if not combined with a eagerness to share?
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        Dec 4 2013: Hi Jeff,I think the eagerness to learn is driven by two motivators,one is personal achievement,the other is to share and help the advancement of the society. Though both are important, different people have different perceptions,thus the focus varies in terms of the incentives. In other words, some people learn in order to achieve their own longing for knowledge,while some people learn to gain the knowledge required to share.
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          Jeff L

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          Dec 4 2013: I can appreciate your response, but I believe if a part of our education was learning how to educate we would have more of the latter.
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    Nov 29 2013: Jeff, For the sake of argument ... can we really teach a kid how to learn? We can expose them to a area and attempt to ignite a interest .... but the desire to learn must be from inside ... our problem is to find the area and the key to light that fire.

    Again I am not for sure we can teach how to teach ... I have sat in classes with highly knowledgeable teachers who attempted to impress us with their knowledge but failed to make the class either interesting or a learning environment. For all of the "teachers" we (all TED members) have had we can each identify at least one who made a difference in our learning and our lives ... and some more than one. Anyone can follow a lesson plan with out special training ... but the people who made a difference for us had a special gift .. a love of the subject ... a love of sharing ... and the ability to communicate that to the students. A class in presentation techniques and proper terms will not alone make them into that special person.

    However I agree that we should teach test taking principles, how to read for effect, and good study habits. This should be re-enforced and upgraded for each level.

    I also think we should stop multiple guess and begin application as a means of evaluation.

    Always fun to discuss education ... I wish you well .... Bob.
    • Nov 30 2013: I have always thought that a great teacher is born with the talent to teach. One teacher stated that it is like a performing art, wonder if he is right.
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        Nov 30 2013: I agree .... like plying the guitar ... some can play the notes and others can make music.
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        Jeff L

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        Dec 3 2013: Learning how to teach and being a great teacher are two totally different things. One require passion and talent and knowledge, the other just requires knowledge.
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      Dec 1 2013: "can we really teach a kid how to learn?"
      I'm curious what you think "learning" looks like....
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        Dec 1 2013: Brown hair, brown eyes, 6'2", approximately 200 pounds.

        If learning is acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values or preferences ... then I do not know what it looks like. I can observe and measure its results ... I can observe the exposure to the process ... If I am lucky I can see the light come on in their eyes as it finally comes clear to them. However, there is no means of knowing what "learning" looks like.

        I would like to throw that same question back to you. As you are the host of this conversation perhaps you had something different in mind. So ... What do you think Learning" looks like?

        Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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          Jeff L

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          Dec 3 2013: Bob,
          Learning is any process necessary to acquire and retain new information.. As we know people learn in a variety of ways. I think it's important that every kid understand what those way are, where they fall and how to teach to each. We have the science. So many kids don't understand where they fall, and spend years trying to be someone their not at the detriment of a healthy academic image of themselves. Most systems teach only to the visual learners. Only recently have we explored more comprehensive forms of educating. Children that were not visually astute were ADHD or had a some kind of learning disability. Learning is what you need it to be. The end result is most important.
  • Nov 28 2013: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
    To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

    -Buckminster Fuller

    One day, we will stop trying to 'Reform' the paradigms.
    Society might begin with the questions:
    1. What IS Teaching?
    2. What IS Education?
    • Dec 1 2013: Well said Scott but next time you present this idea you may want to quote Socrates who presented the same basic idea a couple thousand years earlier.
      “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”- Socrates 470 BC – 399 BC
      Not to take anything away from Bucky he had plenty of accomplishments on his own.
      As to what is teaching? "Attraction is the best teacher"- Keith W Henline
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    Nov 28 2013: This is a good point. My own experience is that if I teach something not only do I retain the material much better, but I also develop a deeper understanding of the issue at hand.
    Actually it doesn't even have to go as far as teaching. Even discussing a specific topic brings already the same benefit I think.
  • Nov 27 2013: Hi dear Jeff L,a really good learning point from you.I reflect myself often:why I can stand on the center stage of classrooms to teach students?Because I am really in authority to do that?I think just because I spent much more time to learn what I want to teach students.if students do the same I have done,they could be anyonei's teacher too.
  • Nov 26 2013: You make a very good point. If I was taught to learn and teach at the same time, I believe that I might have done better in high school and I wouldn't be struggling now in college. I learned that we learn and retain information by teaching. So not only do we learn new things, we are helping others as well, and causing a ripple effect. What actions can we do to implement this idea? I'm very interested!
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      Jeff L

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      Dec 3 2013: Elle,
      I think the most important thing you can do is to find groups of people that are willing to learn and teach with you. (In every class you take) Everyone brings something to the table. Don't hesitate because you might think your not as smart as the others participant. Keep a open mind and be prepared to share. Don't allow the group to skip over the complicated stuff. Have everyone share their thoughts on what's important. Studying by yourself in the library has been the down fall of plenty of great high school students newly indoctrinated to higher education.
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    Dec 6 2013: Totally agree. Yes Yes Yes
  • Dec 2 2013: Teachers teach what teachers teach
    Student learn what students learn
    Sometimes they actually share and collaborate in the learning adventure (sometimes they face each other)

    We should help kids learn how to learn ... the thing is we can't just teach them they have to learn it themselves!
    At most we can show them the ways, and its up to them to venture into them ways...
    BTW we ourselves may have to learn about learning... and helping each other to learn.
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      Jeff L

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      Dec 4 2013: Esteban,
      I'm referring to the science of learning. Distinguishing between a top down learner and a bottom up learner, a visual learner vs auditory, someone with kinesthetic propensities or not. Most kid go through their whole educational experience never understand where they lie on the spectrum. They never understand their strengths and can't explore them. There potential is thwarted by there lack of self awareness and the tool that might exist to support that potential. I really think more kids will want to learn when they understand how they learn. Maybe that's not the case, but I'm a betting man when it comes to education.
      • Dec 4 2013: Jeff,

        I do see that you are referring to the science of learning in this thread and what I wanted to draw your attention into was that part where you 'inadvertently' focused on the science of teaching rather than the science of accompanying learners through their learning experiences. Hopefully the idea that someone can teach others stuff will be once and for all buried!

        Would like to reiterate: At most we can show each other the ways, and its up to each to venture into them ways...
        BTW we ourselves may have to learn about learning... and helping each other to learn!

        One of my pet-peves is the delusional notion that teachers teach especially when the teachers themselves just go through the lessons hoping that students somehow get it right... rather than designing the adventure for each student according to the students particularities...

        In a way many an organizations are sort of moving to mass customization of their products and services to attend to niche markets...
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          Jeff L

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          Dec 6 2013: Well said.. I would agree wholeheartedly.
  • Nov 30 2013: I do not think anyone would disagree with the goal of life long learners. I would suggest that the 1st thing that should go is the concept of an educated individual - we are on the path to be educated but will never get there. I think having the students working in small groups but need to switch the groups (usually 1 or 2 do the work and not the whole group) This will allow students to "teach" and learn.

    I also think most children are interested in everything until that interest is squashed. We need to start at an early age and move upward (believe that is what Finland did and it took 10 years) The money we are spending in High School to raise the graduation rates and abilities of the students is not getting the bang for buck. While spending at the lower grades will have more payback and savings in the long run.
  • Nov 27 2013: Edward Debono and Tony Buzan have done many helpful things along this line.
  • Nov 27 2013: Let kids teach kids under watchful eyes of teachers and class room assistants. Kids age 6 can teach kids age 4. Age 8 kids can teach age 6; age 10 kids can teach the age 8 kids and so on up the grades to a point this is no longer practical. Teach kids hands on skills and give them the book work when older.

    Teaching is a lesson in patience. Learning this early could be a vital factor in balanced living, away from crime, and could teach compassion and sensitivity.

    Food for thought.