The opinions expressed here are the personal views of Karl Fisch and do not (necessarily) reflect the views of my employer.
In times of change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. - Eric Hoffer
The "learned" is the word that I think is so debatable. What makes someone learned? Is it the knowledge we carry? Can someone be both a learner and learned? Can a learner be "required" to read certain canons of literature and feel the innate spark that a learner feels? What if it seems...our students are neither? What if we observe students who do not memorize and own knowledge, but also do not have the fire for learning?
I'll try this post for the second time. AARGHH.About eight years ago, I had a sophomore girl in class that was very bright and knew much about many things. However, she was the poster child for believing that being a good student simply meant GIVING answers in class and proving to others what she already knew. She and I had many battles over this, a few leading to tears (hers, not mine). She was learned, but not a learner.As a senior, she showed up in my government class. Given our scheduling system, I was surprised she was willing to take the teacher she once described in a course evaluation as "my worst nightmare come to visit 5 days a week." We were discussing political philosophy,a topic she had never examined and felt no "learned confidence" about. As a great discussion took place, I became frustrated as I watched her take out paper and begin creating graphs. Assuming she had moved into her learned comfort zone with math, I called her out. She defended herself. She said, "I started today feeling stupid because I don't know anything about what we are talking about. But te conversation was really cool and I wanted to learn so I could take part. So I was thinking. The more I learn, the less I know. Look, I have graphs to prove it."She had that "lightbulb" moment, where she finally realized that being a learner was more important, that mastering a new concept simply opens a door to other new concepts, each exposing how much more there is to know and understand. She apologized to the class for what she had put them through for twelve years as she loved proving to them that she knew more.She is now a teacher.
I think that we are making a transition to learners, but I doubt that many of these kids would be taking all the same classes just for the sake of learning something new. I think some would continue to learn without having it required but others are only motivated by grades, college and their parents. It is a difficult task to get a teenager to want to learn (especially particular subjects).