Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Assumptions of a student

On Friday I mentioned that we should be students but what does that mean?

Being a student is about attitudes and assumptions that we make. The Attitudes of a student are attentiveness, curiosity and openness. The Assumptions of a student are we do not know everything, we are capable of learning, and we learn we are not taught. Yesterday we looked at the Attitudes of a Student so today we will turn our attention to the Assumptions of a Student.

The first assumption we make of students is that we do not know everything. This is first and foremost an act of humility and an acknowledgment of our limitations. Let us look at an example: I will freely admit that I used to not be an instruction reader, especially when it came to building furniture. It used to be well it looks like this piece goes here and that there. There was one particular outdoor table I had to assemble one day, it had a slide out leaf that would self insert when you opened the table up. I fought with that thing for about an hour and a half. I would get it put together and have peace left over, the slide would not move that sort of thing then I would take it apart and try again. Finally I admitted my limitations (i.e. not knowing how this table went together) and turned to the instruction. Fifteen minutes later the table was up and functional.

The second assumption we make as students is we are capable of learning. This may sound simple but how many of life's challenges do we here about and tell ourselves I can't do that? True some things are harder to learn for some people than others but when we approach any situation with the idea that we can't do it we won't do it. We can change; we can learn we just have to admit to ourselves that we can.

I must admit I have sort of cheated with this list, the last item is not really an assumption but an understanding of the process of learning: we learn we are not taught. Learning happens inside us, it is a combination of our receptiveness to information as well as how we process and store that information. The teacher, be it person, book, or video is just a delivery system. In order to be a student we need to understand how we learn, create our own tricks for retaining information and know how to keep our selves receptive. When we understand that the teacher is a source of information and learning it is our responsibility we can come to accept that we have to do the work of learning.


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