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Lifelong Learning – The Only New Year's Resolution We Need

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

By Jamie Reaburn Weir, Learning 2030 Blog Contributor

Image © WGSI/Matthew Piotrowski

Learning is one of my passions. It’s a hunger that can’t be satiated. I’m curious by nature and find so many wonderful things about life interesting that I am always learning something new. As an adult, my inquiry-based learning is limited by my time, but for our children, it is constrained by the walls of our classrooms, our prescribed discipline-based curriculums, and age-based groupings. 

As an English teacher, I’m used to thinking metaphorically and for me, I view the physical walls of our classrooms as only a means to protect us from the elements. I don’t see my classroom as a single entity, but rather, one where my students can connect and collaborate with each other as well as others around the world. With the technology available to us, the only barrier to connecting and learning with others is the one in which we construct. We have so much to learn from others, that we need to be connecting our students with people from the next town over as well as people on the other side of the
globe.

Beyond the classroom walls

In delving into the Ontario curriculum, there is a plethora of opportunities to be engaging in inquiry-based learning while still focussing on the skills dictated by the document. In my dream classroom, the method of learning would be an individualized path for every student based on his or her own interests or passions. life isn’t compartmentalized, so cross-disciplinary projects would be encouraged. The student would have the opportunity to be engrossed in a topic he or she finds interesting. And, as a class, would spend time sharing what we are passionate about, increasing the learning of everyone in the classroom as well as our outside collaborators. I believe that this individualized approach would create empathy and understanding for a more compassionate future generation.

Image © WGSI/Carrie Warner

Cultivating lifelong learners

As I get older, I really see age as just a number. I think what’s more important is to be working and spending time with people who have similar interests who can encourage and further learning. I understand that with children and teenagers, there are varying levels of maturity, however, a wise man once told me, that the best classroom management tool is an engaging activity. If students were engaging in an authentic and meaningful task, grouped based on common interests with specific goals in mind, I think classroom management issues would greatly decrease.

 

 

In reading the Learning 2030 Equinox Communiqué, I see my ideal classroom. One in which the main focus is on learning. We would collaborate, gain the skills required in the curriculum and support one another on our own individual learning journey. In a society where we have so much untapped potential, we need to cultivate excitement for the unending quest that is lifelong learning. As educators, we need to be explorers to create new learning spaces and opportunities for our students as it models our personal learning and demonstrates that we are lifelong learners too.

Jamie Reburn Weir is a high school English teacher from Ontario, Canada who has a keen interest in technology in education.