I use to think reading assigned readings in my courses was unnecessary. Many of my peers assumed that as well because we can get by while only doing a fraction of what’s expected; 3 hours of work a week for 1 unit enrolled, yeah no thanks. But after 5 years of STEM college education, I realized that reading is extremely necessary to unzip the foundational knowledge many of our professors expect us to do. Here are some categories to creating significant learning experiences from L. Dee Fink’s writing.
In fact, as I’m in my upper-division coursework, it’s required to read deeply, just to pass. Gosh, that would have been nice to know earlier on – a huge mission to TLC is to allow you to know earlier. This realization challenges the work of educators and students alike who have long assumed that learning how to learn – is something we all will figure out during our right of passage – that are the letters after our name – in our education. However, the data of college dropout rates in STEM disciplines challenge the work of all parties involved, when we do not explicitly teach the science and art of how learning works.
But who really cares? Who besides The Learning Code, and a handful of serious educators – which include but are not limited to parents, tutors, mentors, fellow associates, colleagues, and teachers – have a stake when we drop out from college? By focusing on outdated metrics and celebrating the ‘few’, I think many of us overlook the deeper question of, what in the world are we actually learning? The truth is, it’s on us the learners to study with purpose, because very few professors have the ability or freedom to do that for you. At the very least, the people who formerly believed that learning how to learn with intentionality doesn’t matter, I invite you to begin changing your minds.
If any other establishment I worked for was loaning their most valuable items, say less – an urban phrase derived from say no more – there would be lines even more chaotic than the ones we witness on Black Friday as a nation out the door. The retail shop, burger joint, even the electronics store * when we probably would be better without the surplus of digital anythings brainwashing us on a weekly basis * would have a line wrapped around the block. But not the library. I never saw a library with a line out the door.
Now that we’ve moved many school textbooks and readings that could be loaned through the library or openly accessed online, it’s even more convenient.
A century ago, information was scarce and books were far harder to obtain than they are now. A couple decades ago, obtaining instructions on “how to do” something was difficult. To this day, my parents still think I’m doing black magic when I reset our router and modem.
“It’s too pricey,” or “I can’t get access to a solution” used to be really good excuses for not reading. But we have obscured the truth. The truth is, it’s hella work to change our minds.
That’s why there is no line out the library, who is giving away their most prized possessions. It’s too much work to change our minds. It’s hella scary to fail, especially when we don’t have any safety nets there to catch us. It’s too much work to plan, act, and reflect. It’s hella work to develop concept images. It’s even more work to go from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence. It’s just too much work to imagine walking through the world with multiple/critical/intersectional lenses, knowledge, and empathy.
That doesn’t have to be the case. We can refuse to be brainwashed into accepting the existing conditions, beliefs, and mental models, and we can commit to finding the human / resources, engaging with them and learning significantly.
If we care enough.
Somehow I’ve gone through two decades of formal education, without ever thinking about what it means to study or learn – which are two different words & verbs. The conclusion I came to about four years ago when Conquering College by Jeff Anderson was presented to me as I had no idea what I was doing to study. For an introduction on Conquering College please read the article: Deep Learning
And for extra credit, the credit is a small deposit into your own learning bank, look through Reading Mathematics and it’s comment field.
The National Youth Poet Laureate, a bold black woman wearing a bright yellow coat who is honored with an award for outstanding creative and intellectual achievement presented “The Hill We Climb” after the siege on the Capitol. Here are the final words from that poem:
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to BE IT.
So go ahead, begin reading for yourself and your mind, you get to skip the line.
What comes up for you when you read this?
How have you or are you changing your mind this year?
How do you learn with purpose