In Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, he gives several “rules” to follow for eating in a manner that is most healthy. One of them struck me as odd. He said “Eat Food.” Pollan even admits that this rule has a strange ring to it, but he goes on to explain that he means that we should eat foods that others from ages past would still recognize as food. He champions the benefits of eating foods that are natural, organic, not chemically enhanced or artificially colored. I immediately made this connection to learning.
When providing education for our children, should we “Just Teach” or “Just Learn”? These are two very different concepts in my mind. To “Just Teach”, the adults seem to be in charge. It’s hard to imagine that I would want others from generations from past would to recognize what is going on in my classroom as “teaching.” Yet, if I focus on the rule of “Just Learn” it creates an entirely different idea for me. If we encourage our children to learn, they have ownership over their process. They are seeing, hearing, acting, doing and feeling. It reminds me less of traditional classroom learning and is more like an apprentice-like approach to skill develop. Blacksmiths would never have had their apprentices sit at a desk and read about melting and molding iron. They would have scoffed at the idea of trying to train anyone this way. I would want this blacksmith to recognize what my students are doing as learning, moving concepts beyond theory into practice. I would hope that my students are building their foundational knowledge based on understanding, experiencing, and absorbing information that is concrete and real.
So, my rule, a la Pollan, would be “Just Learn.” What would your rule of education be?
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