What is the Purpose of Learning? (reframing the question)

What is the Purpose of Education?

This conversation sprang out of the Friday night panel at Educon 2.1 (no, I wasn’t there in person…) and continues to reverberate around the web.  This morning Karl Fisch blogged “What is the Purpose of School?” and included responses from both David Warlick and Seth Godin.  As Fisch points out, both responses include critiques of current education, as well as thoughts on what education might become.  The question got me thinking…

I think what we need is a move away from School as Institution or infrastructure to organize children and Education as Curriculum, to an understanding of Learning as Process or experiences through which we acquire skills and knowledge.  As I see it, School as Institution and Education as Curriculum are on the way out.  The new purpose of Learning must be the acquisition of the capacities necessary to thrive in the digital age.

21st Century Learning

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills recently released their white paper on 21st Century Learning Environments:

21st century learning environment as an aligned and synergistic system of systems that:

·  Creates learning practices, human support and physical environments that will support the teaching and learning of 21st century skill outcomes

·  Supports professional learning communities that enable educators to collaborate, share best practices, and integrate 21st century skills into classroom practice

·  Enables students to learn in relevant, real world 21st century contexts (e.g., through project-based or other applied work)

·  Allows equitable access to quality learning tools, technologies, and resources

·  Provides 21st century architectural and interior designs for group, team, and individual learning.

·  Supports expanded community and international involvement in learning, both face-to-face and online ( 2009, p.5) 

As an educator, I can use the Framework for 21st Century Learning to help me align my teaching and learning with the student outcomes necessary within the context of the accelerated and digital age.  In other words, I can reflect on my practice and strive to make change happen within my own circle of influence – my classroom, my staffroom and my PLN.

Let the process begin.

One thought on “What is the Purpose of Learning? (reframing the question)

  1. I don’t think the purpose of education has ever changed, not at its most basic, anyway. If we think it has a purpose at all, it must be to cultivate our humanity, to help us become what we are as Pindar says.

    Moreover, this notion of an accelerated age is a mis-perception. There is a suspicious presupposition at work says not only that we can have perfect knowledge, but that we should. Both notions are contentious. No one has to deal with all the data. Indeed, no one ever has. I wrote a post on this: Long-Legged Fly Upon the Data Stream, http://ovenell-carter.com/blog/2009/03/01/like-a-long-legged-fly-upon-the-data-stream/

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