The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Never lose a holy curiosity.
I feel people learn best when they are comfortable, have access to anything they want to know, and are treated with respect. I believe that when you learn what you love, you will learn it well and remember it. My design for learning is something I've built over a lifetime of over 60 years and even after this course, I believe it to be the ideal.
It was no surprise to find that I am a Distributed Individual Learner, with Distributed Collective Learner coming in second. I spent my early years despising school as it took time away from my learning. But having a dad who was an educator gave me some respite. He would take me out of school when possible, including several months of 6th grade, traveling with him and living in India. I have always been motivated to learn on my own, pursuing whatever I wanted to know. As a high school student in the late 1960s in a traditional high school, I got permission from our principal to organize two days of An Experiment in Self-Initiated Education, very similar to the Somerville Skillshare we saw in class. Through college and beyond, I continue to learn new things all the time.
As a parent, I knew there were better options than traditional school, and having curious children, we decided unschooling would work best. This allowed our kids to choose what they wanted to learn, how they wanted to learn it, and with whom (if anyone) they wanted to learn it. I guess you could call me the leader of our learning organization, but I referred to myself as their facilitator. Learning and living were so entwined, it’s even hard to write about it. Our home was always full of books, gadgets, and toys to play with. We spent much time outdoors, exploring fields, creeks, mountains, city streets — wherever curiosity led. There were trips to far-off states and other countries, with parents, grandparents, and friends. There were large spaces to create in our home, and small spaces to cozy up with a book, or with a cat or dog to ponder.
The kids joined swim, basketball, and soccer teams, Girl Scouts, youth groups, and our public library and rec center held programs for homeschoolers in the later years of our learning adventures, which our youngest was able to take advantage of. The internet became more of a presence in learning at that time as well. We worked one day each week at a soup kitchen, feeding the homeless in our community. The kids still remind me how much they learned from the men and women we served. They saw adults learning as well, both at home and in the community.
Our goal for our kids was that they learn how to learn, that there are many ways to learn something, that anyone can be a “teacher,” including themselves, and that the world was theirs. They all went on to traditional universities and by society’s standards would be considered successful graduates. But more importantly, they are good human beings, compassionate people, and have never lost that holy curiosity! As for myself, EDX and Coursera keep me occupied. I am so grateful to be alive at this exciting time. There is so much to learn out there, with so many avenues.
Comfortable spaces, both emotionally and physically, and access to tools, books, people and nature. For us, a perfect learning environment. I wish that for everyone.