Becoming vs. Learning

Marc Prensky was the man who coined the phrase ‘ digital natives’ to describe young people growing up in a time when technology is a ubiquitous and natural part of their lives. He is also a future oriented thinker who writes and speaks passionately about the education young people need to be effective in the Twenty First Century.

This is a superb article written by Prensky recently for Education Week. In it he highlights how those who treat learning as the end product of school education are pointing towards the wrong end goal. To him ‘becoming’ must be the end purpose of school education;

Marc Prensky – Education Week Article

I recall a few years ago in a graduation speech to senior students setting out the goals that they should aspire to be the best ‘them’ that they can be. The best person, friend, employer, employee, spouse, sibling, child, friend, citizen etc.

Within school we have the ability to help children to develop the reflective skills and the understanding of the importance of these over simple things like how many maths sums one can answer correctly or how many social studies facts one can remember and reproduce in an exam.

One key element is recognising and focusing more on progress, effort and movement forward as justifications for recognition and praise more than end outcomes. For example, i am reminded of a piece I read about some German research based on a longitudinal study of young athletes and sports persons. They were tracked from childhood. The ones who, in the longer term went on to achieve at the highest levels in their chosen sports were not the ones identified as having the highest levels of latent talent at a young age. Ultimately, those with the high latent talent too often squandered it, or at least failed to apply themselves enough to develop what they had. Those who were the long term winners were the ones who took their initial abilities and worked, strived and applied themselves to honing their talents and building their skills.

In some of my future articles here in the blog i will be focusing on the directions i believe we need to take in schools to shift the focus to ‘becoming’ as the overriding objective.


6 Responses

  1. Marc Prensky’s article resonates with my own view of what education should hope to achieve! Unless we are conscious of this, in today’s world of single children families and 20 children in a class private schools, there is a very real threat of raising an “I, me, myself” generation. Unless we create reflective classrooms and weave in collaborative strategies, our children will take their natural “self-interest” ( Adam Smith) to a very insensitive levels will hamper their ‘becoming’ good children, siblings, friends, employees, etc.

  2. Dear Mr. Parkinson I have posted a comment but my phone has autocorrected parts and the end is grammatically incorrect😞 Really apologise for that! Regards Monica

    Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

  3. Don’t worry Monica, it’s happened to me a few times elsewhere!! What you intended is clear – and well said.

  4. I think by each passing day as a teacher your bond with your students grows stronger and you want to contribute to enhance and create a class that is highly skill based and challenging to students. big responsibility ahead ……..

  5. I have always seen that if Learning is accompanied with imbibing the values taught and practised along with,it automatically gets into the Character of the Child notwithstanding the kind of people he has around.If Learning is linked to emotional traits of the child,we have a responsible citizen of Society in the making.

    • Yes, I that sense they are like sponges, shoaling up whatever is around them. If they experience a high values, ethical, character oriented environment then that can only impact them positively. It also makes them more ready to learn.

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