We're conditioned in some ways to study material for tests and research topics for papers. The end-goal in both instances involves achieving a passing score. Then, many move on to the next imposed challenge. The cycle lives on in those of us who go through the motions. We follow steps and engage in processes prescribed by outside entities without reflecting on meaning and value.
There are moments when educators fail to question understanding, to apply knowledge and skills in novel ways. Upon reflection, it's helpful when educators adopt the model of lifelong learning. Though we don't yet have the capacity to ameliorate our younger selves, it is possible that educators, parents, and students advance as lifelong learners.
What does this mean? The traits of a lifelong learner are numerous; providing a full list of these would take up more space and time than we have. Since education stakeholders tend to focus on identification of appropriate instructional approaches and learning strategies, let's truncate the definition of "lifelong learner". Here's my version...
A lifelong learner is one who pursues problem-based research and
performs experimentation to assess the fitness of possible solutions
on an ongoing basis.
How does it look? In short, we develop processes to learn on our own. We intrinsically seek and solve problems. Four phases are encountered during this journey. Lifelong learners (in any field) tend to...
- pursue problem-based research
- identify possible solutions
- examine solutions via experimentation
- repeat this process to address a new (or old) problem
Why is it valuable? Many education stakeholders benefit when one person adopts this model of learning. Stakeholder behaviors evince curiosity. For instance, parents model curiosity when they inquire about strategies to address academic challenges and behavior setbacks during parent-teacher conferences. Also, as educators, we manifest curiosity by offering alternatives to struggling families and peers.
Our efforts are not in vain, because lasting growth ensues. Five minutes dedicated to responding to a parent or co-worker activates dormant knowledge and skills. Weeks dedicated to researching strategies for a learning disabled student lead to permanent personal and professional growth, plus undiagnosed and borderline students benefit from the new instructional outlook.
Improving confidence, easing family tensions, facilitating learning, increasing performance, and bridging the transition to more challenging environments are borne out of the intrinsic motivation to view one problem through different lenses.
As lifelong learners, stakeholders understand that no education is ever complete. We value professional development opportunities and look beyond these to seek solutions to immediate threats to the development of more independent learners. This is the mission of my firm, Jackson Education Support.
Custom products and personalized services offered for educators, parents, and students. Specialty subjects are literacy, math, and science. Schedule a consult to discuss challenges and goals here.