I dream about learning constantly. I dream at night about my own learning: finding my way, getting out of situations or trouble, helping others, finding something that is lost. I dream during the day of how to create a learning environment that is free from constraints of time and grades, but not standards or measures of competency – I think of them more like literacy standards (Seymour and others): the basic building blocks of understanding that will help to scaffold additional learning and create opportunity for greater awareness.
I am a teacher, and Educator. If I were asked if I always wanted to be a teacher I would say ‘yes’ even though I did not turn to it as a profession until I was in my mid-thirties. I have always been an educator. I read to my friends and showed them the things I knew about words, playing Chutes and Ladders, what flowers grew under the trees, how fast I could ride my bicycle to the end of the road and back. When I was in college, I became a peer tutor and quickly realized that in facilitating others’ understanding I learned the content more explicitly than had I studied on my own. When I was a young adult, I worked with middle school students to show them the power behind organizational theory, basic economic principles and business planning. When I became a mother, I reveled in demonstrating what I knew, exposing my children to the wonders of the natural world, and how to pay attention to their surroundings. And when I entered the education profession, I asked questions to encourage and support my charges’ learning, and I learned both with and from them.
In my mind, I can see the learning Dewey (and Montessori, and Reggio) envisioned for children: through experiences and under the guidance of adults who can encourage, challenge and re-direct (if necessary) toward successful practice and understanding. I’ve seen pieces of it in place in particular learning environments with devoted educators. I know that learning through experience is powerful and enduring. I dream about its impact and results, once adopted widely. I dream about how different human attitudes will be toward learning and knowing. I dream that we – the Yearners, Dreamers, Implementers – will find our way to learning and educating individuals for success as soon as we can.
Papert, S. (1993). The Children’s Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer.