Monday, March 7, 2016

SOL 4 -- Learners Must A.S.K.

I believe the purpose of education is to provide learners with a set of attitudes, skills and knowledge they need to be life-long learners and educated citizens. Learners are the most successful only when they are provided with a mixture of all three ingredients: Attitude, Skills and Knowledge (ASK). But, lately, I’ve noticed that one of these three ingredients is missing from much of our curriculum.

But, what happens when teachers are no longer needed to be the givers of knowledge. Knowledge has become easily available by a simple Google search.  Comedian Pete Holmes has a brilliantly worded comedy routine about this very topic.  This is perhaps one of my favorite comedy routines. I am constantly reminded of this almost every day:

In my classroom, I always strive to have a classroom where students are not told new knowledge; rather, they discover it. Most of my learning targets in the classroom are skills-based. When I make my learning targets, most start with “I can…” or “Readers always…” only to be followed by a verb, or skill. But, where does teaching attitudes fall into our curriculum? Attitudes are those internal drivers of behavior. Attitudes such as:
  • Integrity 
  • Hard work 
  • High expectations 
  • Commitment 
  • Empathy 
  • Self-confidence 
  • Enthusiasm for learning 
  • Love of reading and writing
I, like all of you, use the current set of learning standards (e.g. Common Core and Ohio Learning Standards for Science/Social Studies) to create the learning targets, which provide a focus for my students’ learning and help them establish their own learning goals. When closely inspecting our standards, one can see that they focus heavily on the SKILLS and KNOWLEDGE parts of learning. This is not enough. If I focus solely on teaching the standards (i.e. skills and knowledge only), then I am robbing my students of a major ingredient in the recipe for learning.  The ATTITUDE and mindset that the learning process is more valuable than just knowing something.


  1. These attitudes and mindsets are so important for our students. Thank you for this post.

  2. These attitudes and mindsets are so important for our students. Thank you for this post.

  3. I am a Social Studies teacher entering my fourth year and very often I face the issue of instant gratification in my classroom. Since all of my students have grown up in an age where technology is so readily available, most questions they have can be immediately answered using google or their smart phone. Although it is difficult, I do strive to teach my students to appreciate the challenge and struggle of trying to find the correct answer. Unfortunately, as mentioned in the video of Pete Holmes that you posted, my students now very rarely experience the feeling of not knowing. As a result, the unknown or challenging becomes an incredibly uncomfortable experience for my students and they often give up trying rather that persevere to find the correct answer or solution. As an educator, I have found that when students actually have to work towards finding an answer or solution, their learning process is much more meaningful and memorable. However, with the pressures of ensuring that your students have mastered the standards in your curriculum, it is difficult to manage time between teaching the content and fostering the attitude that students need to combat difficult problems in the future; problems that might not be answered by a simple search on google. Overall, I really enjoyed reading your post as it resonated with a lot of the difficulties I have faced in my classroom. With each year that passes, I will try to integrate less of an emphasis on facts and figures, and more on problem solving and trial and error in order to get my students more comfortable with the feeling of not knowing or potentially not being correct.

    Thank You!