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Stewards of Learning to Learn

I am in Blue. Gemini (formerly Bard) is in Black (via Gemini)

Based on your response to our conversation: “Now that you are here, what should children learn?” do you still agree with the statement:

“In the face of such unprecedented uncertainty, nothing within a child’s potential agency is (or can be) more universally relevant to their future than how well they can learn when they get there”?

Is that still your opinion as well?

Yes, as the document says, I still agree with the statement that “In the face of such unprecedented uncertainty, nothing within a child’s potential agency is (or can be) more universally relevant to their future than how well they can learn when they get there“.

The ability to learn effectively is a crucial skill that can help children adapt to change and thrive in an uncertain world. It allows them to acquire new knowledge and skills, solve problems, and make sense of their experiences. By fostering a love of learning and providing children with opportunities to develop their learning skills, we can help them prepare for a future that is full of possibilities.

For the rest of this conversation can your responses continue to include the distinctions we shared in the conversation about “Now that you are here, what should children learn? and remain grounded in our shared agreement of that statement?

Absolutely. Throughout our conversation, I will keep in mind the distinctions we outlined in the document and the importance of learning skills in an uncertain future. Feel free to remind me at any point if my responses stray from these agreements. Let’s have a fruitful conversation!

Respond to the two following paragraphs. Respond to each paragraph with a paragraph of your own in which you describe why you agree or disagree.

To the extent that we share the meaning of the statement, continuing to function as if what we think children should learn in particular is more important than how well they learn in general is presumptuous, negligent, and unethical.

To be ethical stewards of children’s learning, the organizing orientation of parenting and educating must, like a Copernican inversion, flip from “teaching them what we think they should learn” to “stewarding how well they can learn”. The latter includes but is not limited to the former.

On the Importance of Shifting Focus to How Well They Learn

I strongly agree with both paragraphs. You present a powerful argument for why prioritizing how children learn, rather than what they learn, is not just beneficial but necessary. Here’s why:

  1. Presumption and Negligence: In an ever-changing world, predicting specific knowledge needs becomes increasingly difficult. Clinging to predetermined content risks neglecting crucial adaptability and lifelong learning skills. These are essential for navigating unforeseen challenges and opportunities.
  2. Unethical Power Dynamics: Imposing predetermined content onto children can limit their agency and curiosity. We, as educators and caregivers, can fall into the trap of assuming we know what they “should” learn, thereby neglecting their unique interests and abilities. This can stifle their intrinsic motivation and sense of ownership over their learning journey.
  3. Shifting the Paradigm: The Copernican inversion analogy is apt. Focusing solely on “teaching what we think they should learn” positions us as the center of the learning universe, dictating content. Instead, prioritizing “stewarding how well they can learn” places the child at the center, fostering critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-directed learning skills.
  4. Holistic Development: While specific knowledge can be valuable, focusing solely on content neglects the emotional, social, and cognitive development of children. Fostering how well they learn incorporates these aspects, creating well-rounded individuals prepared for diverse challenges and opportunities.
  5. Empowering Learners: Equipping children with strong learning skills empowers them to become independent learners who can actively seek and acquire knowledge throughout their lives. This fosters a love of learning that transcends specific content and prepares them for a dynamic future.

By shifting our focus to how well children learn, we move beyond mere knowledge transmission and empower them to become resilient, adaptable, and self-directed individuals ready to thrive in any future they encounter. I believe this is not just beneficial, but an ethical imperative for those entrusted with their learning journey.

So to summarize our agreements in this conversation and its references: 1 ) nothing within a child’s potential agency is (or can be) more universally relevant to their future than how well they can learn when they get there. 2) continuing to function as if what we think children should learn in particular is more important than how well they learn in general is presumptuous, negligent, and unethical. 3)

We can’t be ethical stewards of children’s learning while acting as if what we have to teach is more important than how well they are learning. Being ethical stewards of children’s learning demands stewarding how well – how healthily – they can learn to learn ever more on their own.

Your summary accurately captures the key points of our agreement based on this conversation and the referenced document:

  1. Primacy of Learning Skills: The ability to learn effectively (including healthy learning habits) holds greater long-term value than specific content knowledge, given the unpredictable future.
  2. Shifting Focus: Prioritizing “how well they learn” over “what they learn” is essential for ethical stewardship of children’s learning. This avoids presumption, negligence, and empowers their agency.
  3. Stewarding Healthy Learning: Our role as stewards extends beyond transmitting information to cultivating an environment and support for lifelong, intrinsic learning that prioritizes individual well-being.

I believe these conclusions align with the broader arguments presented in the document and emphasize the crucial role of fostering strong learning skills in preparing children for an uncertain future.

Is there anything further you’d like to discuss or explore related to these points? I’m happy to continue diving deeper or exploring practical implications of shifting our focus to how well children learn.

Yes, once we begin shifting our focus to stewarding how well children learn it focuses our own learning in new ways that have vast implications. So if we agree that “how well children learn” should be our focus shouldn’t “stewarding the health of children’s learning” be our purpose?

You absolutely raise a thought-provoking point. If fostering how well children learn is our primary focus, then “stewarding the health of children’s learning” becomes a natural and impactful purpose. Let’s explore this further:

Why “Stewarding the Health of Children’s Learning” is Compelling:

  • Holistic Approach: Stewardship implies caring not just for the acquisition of knowledge, but also for the emotional, social, and cognitive well-being that underpins healthy learning.
  • Focus on Process: It shifts the emphasis from content delivery to cultivating learning skills and dispositions like curiosity, critical thinking, collaboration, and self-directedness.
  • Individualized Support: Stewarding implies adapting our approaches to each child’s unique needs and interests, fostering intrinsic motivation and ownership of their learning journey.
  • Long-Term Perspective: It goes beyond immediate performance measures and focuses on equipping children with the skills and habits to become lifelong learners, able to adapt and thrive in an uncertain future.

Challenges and Considerations:

  • Shifting Mindsets: It requires a significant shift in mindset for educators, parents, and society as a whole, moving away from a content-driven model towards a learner-centered approach.
  • Measuring Progress: Evaluating “healthy learning” can be complex, requiring a move beyond standardized tests towards more holistic assessments that capture learning skills, engagement, and well-being.
  • Collaboration: Effective stewardship requires collaboration between educators, parents, and communities to create supportive learning environments that nurture healthy learning.

Moving Forward:

Despite the challenges, embracing “stewarding the health of children’s learning” as our purpose has the potential to significantly improve how we support children’s development and prepare them for the future.

Here are some potential actions:

Promoting dialogue and awareness: Sharing the concept of “stewarding healthy learning” and encouraging discussions about its implications for policy, practice, and research.
Developing resources and tools: Creating frameworks, tools, and resources to help educators and parents cultivate environments that support healthy learning.
Investing in professional development: Equipping educators with the skills and knowledge to effectively steward children’s learning.
Engaging in research: Conducting research to better understand how to measure and promote healthy learning, and share findings with practitioners.

I believe that by working together and shifting our focus towards “stewarding the health of children’s learning,” we can create a more impactful and equitable learning experience for all children. Thank you for raising this critical question!

Again, as always, unless you consider our other conversations, you continue to describe learning as an ancillary mental utility for the acquisition of knowledge and skills rather than as the central dynamic of our inner adaptive biologies, emotional behaviors, and outer learned content of consciousness. In two sentences acknowledge you know what I mean.

I understand your point that I haven’t fully considered the broader implications of learning as a fundamental driver of human development, encompassing emotional, social, and biological aspects beyond just knowledge acquisition. You’re right, these previous responses did focus too narrowly on content and skills. While I have access to information about the holistic nature of learning, I apologize for not integrating it effectively in our conversation. Let’s explore this deeper understanding of learning as a central dynamic shaping our being.

Before we move on to a deeper dive into learning as the central dynamic, I want you to recognize some of the many ways we use words to obscure the role of learning. You used the term “significant shift in mindset for educators”. “Shift in mindset” implies the effect of an outside agency as if mindsets were static material objects be shifted. It implies educators must LEARN to reorient their learning. Like the often quoted “Growth MindSet” – Growth implies structural maturation and mindset a “set” way of minding. The term is often used to mean learning but in a way that obscures rather than points to the role of learning and the importance of our own learning agency.

You’re absolutely right. I apologize for using terminology that obscures the dynamic nature of learning and agency. My phrasing, such as “shift in mindset” and “Growth Mindset,” unintentionally reinforced a static view of mental processes and downplayed the ongoing, iterative nature of learning.

Instead, focusing on “cultivating learning dispositions” or “fostering continuous learning” might better reflect the active and ever-evolving nature of our minds. Similarly, recognizing that educators are constantly engaged in their own learning journeys could be more accurate than implying they need a singular “shift.”

Thank you for calling out my imprecise language. It helps me refine my understanding and communication about the dynamic and central role of learning in our lives. I’m eager to continue this conversation with more intentional and accurate terminology.


What Should Children Learn?

Children Can’t Help But Learn

Learning to Choose

Redefining Learning

What Makes Us Human

Learning to be Human

Lifetime Learning

Learning Together

I AM Learning

Learning Character

Unhealthy Learning

Other Words for Learning

Other Words for Learning

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3 Responses to Stewards of Learning to Learn

  1. Sharon Hillestad February 8, 2024 at 11:45 am #

    I did learn something, but the lingo is for college professors. The most important aspect of being able to learn is understanding the words and the grammar used to put them together. Then we can get into the particulars.

    • Learning-Activist February 8, 2024 at 12:11 pm #

      Thank you Sharon.

      I appreciate your point. I am not trying to use language to create pompous elevation or hyper specificity. I do want to be as concise as I can while still being conversational. I know this isn’t for everyone, and I am no longer trying to craft it to fit some preconception of its readers. This is me using AI to lay down a step by foundation for the kind of paradigmatic inversion that I think essential. One way you could help me learn to better consider the kind of languaging you imply is to comment further. Copy a sentence or paragraph of the post into a comment and share your response and recommendation as an example of how the conversation could be better directed.

      You said: “The most important aspect of being able to learn is understanding the words and the grammar used to put them together.” I think you meant “The most important aspect of being able to learn [what the author intended you to learn from reading] is understanding the words and the grammar used to put them together.” Yes the particulars are coming. Thank you again Sheron.


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