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What if the best learning happens when we stop teaching all the time?

  • There are an estimated 215 million drawing tutorials on YouTube. 
  • Half a billion music lessons to look at. 
  • Hundreds of thousands of videos that teach you how to ride a unicycle.

When did plopping learners in front of a screen become a default for everything? Surely, we can’t call it self-directed learning when it’s actually technology directed learning .. can we?

Now, I acknowledge that there is some tremendous content online that inspires learning, but what I want to talk about here is that LEARNING doesn’t always have to be directly linked to TEACHING. 


Sometimes it’s not about learning something new, it's about practising what we already know. 
Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Prince, and my absolute favourite; Jack White all have one thing in common: they all consider themselves to be self-taught musicians. Dave Ghrol famously took a single drum lesson before realising that he’d do better on his own. Elton John started playing piano when he was three years old and figured it out himself for four years before taking a lesson. 

Another thing that these musicians have in common … not one of them had access to online tutorials. What they did have was SPACE. Space to practise, try new things, practise some more, create, practise, fail, practise … you get the idea.


When we listen to external teachings, we can’t hear our own thoughts.
Picasso said it best: “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up.”
When learners get busy consuming information all the time, they stop creating. Ed Sheeran announced a couple of years ago that he was leaving social media because he’d had enough of “seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes”. He took time to stop consuming information from others, and focus back into creating his art in the space previously occupied by selfies and 24/7 news updates. 

I wonder, if we used the online tutorials sparingly, would kids continue to be their own teachers for a little bit longer, before the creativity gets squashed out of them.


Don’t worry teacher friends, there can still be measurable learning outcomes. 
My favourite outcome for any self directed learning is: develop and share your expertise with an audience. 

It’s open enough to give space for lots of flexibility for kids to share their learning in a way that works for them, while being clear that there’s an expectation that skills or knowledge need to be developed and shared. 


What do you think?
Could more learning happen when we focus less on teaching all 👏 the 👏 time 👏 ? 




 

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