It’s all about doing – learning takes action

IMG_2162I am all about reading garden magazines, garden books and garden blogs. I have read them for years. They are my go to relaxing read. There is no tension, no worries just plants, soil and color. I can smell the fresh air as I open the book. You would think I would be a master gardener by now but in reality I am not.

I know bits and pieces of things. I have random facts in my head and can name a bunch of flowers but to really know something you need to do more than just read.

Don’t get me wrong – reading is great and so needed but…

What I have known all my reading/teaching life is that to own the knowledge you read about you must act on it. You need to do something with the information you just read about.

I have re discovered this little tidbit again this week in sorting out old writing notebooks. In one I found a page with highlights from a reading, a talk or my own thinking, I am not sure which. It was dated 1993 thoughts on questions and inquiry.

Here are some of those thoughts

  • the challenge is to daily make lessons a question
  • the more experience given good or bad at a young age the more you will learn
  • the purpose of work is to get students to problem solve
  • we give information but the student doesn’t take it on as his own until he uses it

There is the key – the student doesn’t take it on as their own until they use it. SONY DSC

Now that I am retired I spend a bit of each day in my garden. I think about the issues and problems. I am digging, sorting, adding and subtracting from it often and in that process I am using all the information I have gathered over the years. I often times need to go back to my books and magazines to re read or seek new sources for information long lost to me. I read but never really owned the material until I started using it often.

This learning is what I tired to do in my classroom years ago. Each new piece of information needed to be acted on in some way through out the week. The students needed to write about it, build something, solve a problem that used that information. They needed to make it our own.
SONY DSCIn the world of teaching today I worry about that step of making learning our own. There seems to be little time in the day for making and doing. The use of arts, the doing of science experiments, raising of critters (fish, hamsters), the growing of  plants, the making of maps and the exploring of the world through field trips, neighborhood walks and talks. The doing that makes learning stick in our brains and bodies.

I am aware that there are still many classrooms across our country where “doing” is still a large part of the classroom routine but I also know that in our schools of high poverty the slogan of “butts in seat” has shown up again.

As I work in my garden and know first hand again that learning comes from using the information given us I wonder how to we help others understand this bit of knowledge.

How do we help others to own – Learning is all about doing!

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About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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5 Responses to It’s all about doing – learning takes action

  1. Lori Sheroan says:

    Wow! I really enjoyed this slice. I loved the wisdom in your words, “What I have known all my reading/teaching life is that to own the knowledge you read about you must act on it. You need to do something with the information you just read about.” I certainly hope I will be mindful of always making time in my classroom for students to act on what they’ve learned.

  2. Dana Murphy says:

    I do see the “doing” is starting to disappear from classrooms. It’s sad. I think of my own daughters who are just starting their school careers, and I hope they experience ‘doing.’

  3. Linda Baie says:

    So, so right, Joanne. At the school where I worked it was a high priority to get out of the building for learning in the world. We believe that it’s a huge part of the ‘sticking’. Those teachers who are blogging are part of that writing learning, don’t you think? Great post of your personal life applied to school life too.

  4. Ramona says:

    “Learning comes from using the information given us.” Joanne, this is such a wise insight. I love how you’ve used your gardening stories as an example. I’m hopeful that we can continue to provide opportunities for doing, the most valuable learning occurs when we do.

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