Know Your Learners

I created the New learning Ecosystem chart seven years ago. It was my attempt to try to make sense of the direction learning should go in the future. Interestingly, “learner-centered” is having a moment right now. There are so many great resources to learn more about becoming a learner-centered educator. A recent group that is having a lot of impact is The Learner-Centered Collaborative. I encourage you to check them out.This chart is meant to simplify the framework in which to think about moving away from the traditional model of schooling and do something more meaningful for learners. But, is there a way to create an even more simplified framework?My colleague Duff Rearick and I discuss just this idea quite a bit and we have come up with a few points that will help you shift from a traditional mindset of school to a learner-centered mindset.Here you go.1. Know Your Kids. No excused. No matter the size of your school, and the inherent issues facing your school, a learner-centered leader sets up systems to assure that ALL learners are “known” to adults in the school. What are their interests, hopes, fears, aspirations, and inspirations? This is simple to do. Forget the hogwash about test scores and “growth”…just know your kids!2. Kids Aren’t “Things.” Kids are not data points. Kids are not a plot on a chart. Kids are not inanimate objects that can be modified by research=based interventions. Kids are human beings and human beings can be messy at times. Embrace the messy…that is where the magic lies!3. The Testing Culture Is Child Abuse (And Fiscal Abuse). I am not downplaying some of the horrible conditions that our children live through. I am putting a stake in the ground and saying that the Education/Testing Complex is a form of child abuse. When kids cry the night before big state-mandated tests, when kids are placed in “remediation” classes because of a score on a test, when a student’s self-worth is determined by a test score…we are encouraging child abuse in our a system.BTW, go figure out the amount of money you spend in your school on state-mandated tests. Figure the hourly rate of all of the adults involved in organizing and proctoring the test. It’s fiscally irresponsible. I would love to hear what you come up with.

About Tom Butler, Ph.D.

I believe that public education is for the public good and that education should be uncompromisingly learner-centered. The New Learning Ecosystem points us away from the old model of education that does not serve kids well. All educators regardless of where they work can help lead and contribute to the New Learning Ecosystem.
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1 thought on “Know Your Learners

  1. We tried portfolios years ago and we thought that portfolios that learners managed created ownership (agency), responsibility, self esteem, and motivation. Funny thing, at the time, teachers did not like them. It seemed it somehow created a relationship to teacher effectiveness. Progress monitoring should be in the hands of the learners whenever possible.

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