“I build upon what I already know, but I do not limit myself to myself.”
If I could relate to anything in George Couros’ The Mindset of an Innovator, it would be this quote. As a future educator, it’s a given that the topic and concept of learning is in the forefront of my mind. I’m fascinated by learning; I want to know how people learn, what works best for them, and how I can facilitate the learning they need. However, with every new article I read about the topic, the fuzzier it gets; I realize that learning is not a single stream, one-size-fits-all event that happens in select places under select circumstances. Perhaps that’s why it’s so important to continually “unlearn” in order to move forward.
For me, learning is exactly like the quote above; I am continually hungry for more knowledge, and I don’t necessarily limit it to what I already know. I want to learn about everything and anything. One month I’ll devour novels about the Tudors and research practice of court from that time, and the next I’ll be learning about astrology and the stories behind constellations. I have my interests like anyone else, but if I find something interesting or something I have no prior knowledge about, I want to learn and gain understanding. This is one of my strengths, but I know not everyone learns the way I do. Not everybody will have the “get up and go” instinct to seek knowledge in areas they’re unfamiliar with.
That’s where unlearning comes in. Somehow, the idea has been pushed that we all must learn the same content, the same way, without explaining why. As Will Richardson stated, “We need to unlearn the idea that every student needs to learn the same content when really what they need to learn is how to self-direct their own learning.” How true is this? Instead of pushing uniformity, why aren’t we teaching our students to seek understanding on their free will, thus making learning completely theirs?
This semester I’ve been able to formulate a few ideas about how I’ll kickstart self direction in my classroom. I may know how to do it for myself, but for other students will need to know how to do this as well, and from using “hackschooling” techniques, project-based learning, and passion-based learning, I feel that self-direction isn’t such a far-reaching concept. I’ve unlearned many more concepts, but for every concept I’ve unlearned there’s been five more I have learned. From those five I can learn ten, twenty, and so on. I will not “limit myself to myself,” and I’ll show my students to do the same.
From this unlearning we can achieve innovation. We certainly can’t move forward if we stay in the same rutted, routine line of thinking, and if we want to be the best educators (and learners) we can be, we have to unlearn.