How We Learn

For those of us who are out of school, our learning process isn’t so different from a preschoolers.  We follow our curiosity.  We ask questions, find experts, and figure things out.  We are rarely lectured.  We probably aren’t studying or giving ourselves exams either.  The closest I come to a lecture these days is watching TED Talks, and those hardly resemble the lectures I remember from my college days.

As I listened to the American RadioWorks documentary Don’t Lecture Me, I cheered the changes they documented in some college instruction that seems to focus on helping students make connections on their own rather than simply take in information.  It reminded me of what I read recently in Mind in the Making, which was about early childhood development.  Maybe all education should be like preschool.

“To promote children’s curiosity, be careful not to jump in too quickly to fix things they’re struggling with, since working with the ‘confounding’ situation is where critical thinking is promoted. Instead, where possible,  help them figure out how they can resolve it for themselves.”

The book is a great resource for parents or educators who are interested in practical ideas for promoting skills their children need but don’t necessarily learn in school, like critical thinking, focus, self control.  I found the advice about encouraging a growth mindset (which included parents modeling failure and persistence) very valuable.  Follow that up with this discussion on MPR’s Midmorning* about character education in our schools for a fascinating perspective on how important these social skills are.  They talk about many of the skills that Mind in the Making outlined as key to early childhood education, but they had different words for them.  Dedication to one’s goals despite setbacks became “grit.”  Curiosity and optimism became “zest.”

Whatever you call them, these are traits (skills?) that I want to give (teach?) my daughter.   These are our values, and I have a strong interest in the sort of education that recognizes their importance.

Here are some tips from Mind in the Making for parents and educators trying to promote these essential skills.

See more posts about science, religion, and secular family life on my Secular Thursday page.


*I have no connection to MPR or Midmorning. I just listen to it a lot, and I end up blogging about what I hear.

Disclosure: Book referenced was a library copy.  Links may be affiliate links.

Author: Mindy R

I'm a librarian, writer, book reviewer, etc.

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