Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fire Up the Learner Within

Pant, Atul. (2010). Fire Up the Learner Within. London: Timeless Lifeskills Limited.


I chose this book because of the subtitle, The Art of Self-Directed Learning. In my opinion this book is simply a short how to book for anyone, any age that wants to be a lifelong learner. In the introduction, I was drawn to the idea of a framework for self-directed learning: learning, knowing, understanding, and performing. The book is set up to address supposed strategies or examples of how a person can employ the framework as stated. The book clearly defines what it will take to be a self-directed, lifelong learner in the 21st century. Each chapter focus is one of the elements of a self-directed learner: to learn, to know, to understand, and to perform.

The author of this book cites many practitioners who in one form or another addresses self-directed learning such as Carol Dweck, Malcolm Gladwell, Ellen Langer, Daniel Goleman, Chris Watkins, George Siemens, Howard Gardner, Peter Senge, Daniel Pink, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and many more. I found that this author cited the works of these individuals connecting their works to the concept of self-directed learning. He cites their work to support his ideas and claims about his framework. Citing these other authors was helpful because each citation led me in a direction to pursue further studies and works. I’m not exactly sure if the author completely gave me strategies for lifelong learning, but I was able to pursue examples of the works of others.


“To continually expand your personal mastery of a discipline or life pursuit, the first ingredient is a vision. A vision is not a goal it is derived from sense of purpose, an individual’s sense of why the individual lives. Vision must have an underlying sense of purpose. Conversely, purpose without vision has no sense of appropriate scale. Vision gives energy, enthusiasm and ability to persevere even in the face of frustrations and setbacks. Vision pulls you towards itself.”(p. 98)


This quote struck me because I feel in order for someone to truly be able to self-assess, they have to know where they were going. A person who can look into himself or herself as a learner is aware of their ignorance and knows where they need and want to grow. This is what I want students to be able to think about and try to envision for themselves. Knowing that people need a vision, lets me pursue an idea of having students set short term and long-term goals periodically throughout the school year.


“Just as metacognition is thinking about your thinking, metacognition is being aware, through reflection, about the process of learning as you learn something. In other words, while you are learning something you reflect on your learning process and draw out general principles and explicit understanding of how you learn best. You then apply this knowledge when you next learn something new and thus keep improving your learning process.” (p.47)


This quote pushes me think about how I will improve how students assess themselves. I am drawn to the idea of students be able to reflect on the process of their learning. I have always felt that teachers and students focus too much on the end products students create when I feel the real learning that is taking place is during the process of a project or lesson. It is in the discussion, the trial and errors, the reading to gather information, the steps one takes to solve a problem that teachers tend to miss. I want students to focus and hone in on how they learn best. I want to groom the process, not just the product.

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