As a teacher who works with adults, I talk a lot about having a growth mindset and being a life-long learner. This fall, as everyone heads back to school I have been doing a lot of thinking about learning – and teaching. In the field of education, we spend a lot of time discussing the shift from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning. Long term learning occurs when we grow our brain’s dendrites by connecting new information to existing information. On our farm there are lots of different types of learning happening all of the time. I want to take time this week to celebrate some of that learning, and also reflect on the teaching.
Growing Up: Young kids are amazing learners. The first five years of life lay the foundation for our brain to make many, many connections. Dendrites are forming, growing and connecting like crazy! In the last week, I realized that my oldest can paint people that are recognizable, identify numbers in real world situations and wants to know when she can learn to read. My youngest turns two today – where did the time go?!?! In my opinion, this age is soooo much better than newborn. It is impossible not to laugh when you hear “Looking. No touching. Just looking.” followed by extreme amounts of touching. Kids are amazing learners because they learn with all of their senses. They get their hands in the grain bin to run the seeds through their fingers. They are sniffing – and sometimes tasting – the freshly tilled soil. We can learn a lot about learning by being keen observers of children.
As adults, we can learn in lots of different ways. We learn from each other, we learn from watching, listening and then doing! Teaching also happens in lots of different ways. Teaching with intention can make the learning process seamless and connected. Brain research tells us that we retain what we can connect to other things that are already stuck in our brains. My job as a mom, host-mom, wife and learner is to make those connections in order to keep growing dendrites. Keep reading about learning all this week.