How Teachers And Parents Can Actually Create Lifelong Learners

(By Fred Sitkins)

I’ve been attempting to develop “lifelong learners” for longer than I’d like to admit. The concept has always been there, but the reality of developing learners has proven much more difficult than imagined.

Throughout my years in education I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work with a great number of extremely dedicated and hard working educators all pursuing the same dream of developing lifelong learners. I have to admit that I’ve become discouraged at times because it seems like hard work and dedication should be enough, but the dream remained out of reach.

However, after all these years I now see that we have been working extremely hard and not realising the benefits we should because the right tool hadn’t been developed yet for the job. I’m now enjoying the most exciting times of my career because I see that the dream of developing lifelong learners can be a reality.

Student Centred Learning

The primary message we attempt to send to everyone we talk with about our initiative is the potential for true student centred learning as a result of our 1:1 iPad initiative. While this post is centred on the idea of student centred learning, it’s important to note that our complete message includes a focus on the benefits of incorporating the use of technology for staff learning as well. The idea of staff centred learning provides the same benefits for staff as student centred learning does for students.

Lifelong Learning = Learning How To Learn

A quick Google search of the phrase student centred learning provides volumes of information on the benefits of this learning model. However, to me the most important benefit of student centred learning is that it is truly the road to follow for realising that most popular and often overstated school mission of developing life-long learners. As a result of our 1:1 iPad initiative, we are able to transition our teaching model from one where teachers and/or the adopted textbook is the source for all student learning; to one where students gain experience with discovering and processing new information alongside their teacher. The focus of this model is actually teaching students how to learn as opposed to teaching them information. This excites me because when we teach students how to learn, we begin the process of developing lifelong learners.

Old vs. New

In the “old” model of instruction, the teacher is seen as the sole provider of knowledge and students are seen as passive participants. This passive model of instruction sends the message to students that the path to learning involves nothing more than sitting and listening.  We must realise that the path to deep learning and understanding should place the learner in the role of an active participant actively seeking, interpreting, analysing and applying information. Clearly, when we follow an active, student centred model we are actually teaching students the process of acquiring new knowledge or “learning”.  Teaching students how to learn is so much more valuable than teaching them information.



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