Over at the Teaching Professor blog, Maryellen Weimer has come up with a list of seven characteristics of good learners. We might all salivate at the idea of students like this:
- Good learners are curious
- Good learners pursue understanding diligently
- Good learners recognize that a lot of learning isn’t fun.
- Failure frightens good learners, but they know it’s beneficial.
- Good learners make knowledge their own.
- Good learners never run out of questions.
- Good learners share what they’ve learned.
Imagine a classroom full of the curious, persistent, generous risk-takers described here. “But Beth,” I hear you saying, “that’s all very well, but we have to take our students the way they come.”
And that’s true, but we’re not helpless in the face of passive resistance. We can adopt policies that require and reinforce diligence. But more to the point, we can model this kind of learning for our students, demonstrating our own curiosity and the way in which our discipline asks questions. We can share some of our own flubs, and create a classroom environment that provides the kind of support that encourages risk-taking and enables success. We can show how the un-fun equips us to fly.
Most of us probably ended up in teaching because we love to learn. Let’s remember to show our students how we got there.