Digital Leading and Learning · My Digital Path

My Learning Philosophy: The Importance of “Why”

life is learning

The beginning of each school year I used to ask students to complete a questionnaire that would help identify their learning styles. This was both for me to learn about them and for them to learn about themselves. What I am now beginning to realize is that what I have learned about learning styles up to this point in my academic career is being questioned (Weimer, 2014). While it is unanimously accepted that everyone has a preference as to how they are taught, the most important variable in any learning environment is the “why.” I agree that everyone learns differently, and we all need to be able to learn in various environments, but the key to all of this is making a distinct connection between the content being taught and the world in which we live.

Constructivism

In order for teachers to effectively impact their students, true and holistic learning must take place. It is my job as a teacher to be a learning facilitator who focuses on the learners and the classroom environment instead of simply sharing information and modeling skills (Harapnuik, n.d.). Teaching students the material through lecture or traditional methods does not ensure that they are making the connections necessary for meaningful, long-term learning. It is for this reason that I believe in Constructivism, the philosophy that “people construct knowledge through their experiences and interactions with the world” (Boyd, 2003). I also share Boyd’s (2003) thoughts on the need for social and project-based learning in these environments. Every day we are learning from one another as we work together to solve multitudes of problems. Why should the classroom be any different?

A teacher “is a person who imparts knowledge or skill through instruction or example” (Harapnuik, n.d.), and in today’s world there is little need for this role. Technology has completely changed the educational needs of students because they can just as easily find multiple sources with information as they can ask a teacher. E-learning means students have 24/7 accessibility, consistently updated materials, the ability to access related information through hyperlinks, self-pacing options, and communication tools (Tan & Hung, 2003). Instead, teachers need to structure learning environments and create opportunities for natural learning. The video above highlights the fact that people learn when they are active and concepts are applied to real world experiences, and I am no different.

learning2

I consider myself to be someone who loves learning about everything. Whether I am trying to understand my husband’s love for golf or researching how I can become a more effective teacher, it is always enjoyable. I have these beliefs because at a young age I learned how to step back and look at the big picture. As long as I can find a way to relate to whatever it is I am learning to my life, I am fully invested. With this in mind, I am able to learn in any environment. I can learn while listening to a lecture, writing a paper, creating a video, or collaborating on a presentation as long as the content is relevant to my life. Some of these environments are more effective than others, but the relevance is what makes me want to learn more.

This learning philosophy is fairly similar to my teaching philosophy, which focuses on tapping into my students’ passions within my classroom. Now that I have thought out and researched my learning philosophy too, I can see that passions and Constructivism are directly connected. It is important that as my clientele naturally shifts in our consistently changing world, I too revisit my learning philosophy because “the more [I] know and understand about learning…the easier it is to make good decisions about how to teach” (Weimer, 2014).  By creating an environment that encourages play and links to my students’ experiences, I am fulfilling my current teaching and learning philosophies.

Moving forward, I am excited to use this summer to revamp many of my lessons so they more effectively reflect my learning philosophy and what I have learned in the past couple weeks. My goal to implement the ePortfolio within my classroom and eventually all classrooms does this already, and the more I think about it the more excited I am to get my students writing about and reflecting on their learning in and out of the classroom. By adjusting my environment and focusing on facilitating learning, I can incorporate ePortfolios as a method of sharing student growth. I believe that infusing their ePortfolios and their learning with individual preferences, my students will feel connected to the classroom and in turn learn essential skills on a deeper level.

I might be a blue personality and a tactile learner while my husband might be an orange personality and a visual learner. There are endless classifications that can be set regarding personal preference, but I don’t want to be categorized anymore. The reality is that we all learn when it is meaningful. As long as I continue to work to create a classroom that brings together my content and my students’ lives, then I am living my learning philosophy!

personal best

References

Boyd, N. (2003). Constructivism: Overview & practical teaching examples [Video file]. Retrieved from http://study.com/academy/lesson/constructivism-overview-practical-teaching-examples.html

Natalie Boyd not only has a helpful video within this post, but she also does a great job connecting Constructivism with social learning and project-based learning. I wanted to post this video in my post, but because it is not on YouTube I was not able to. 

Harapnuik, D. (n.d.). Learning philosophy [Blog post]. Retrieved from It’s about learning website: http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=95

This blog post written by my Lamar University professor, Dr. Harapnuik, clarified the difference between a teacher and a learning facilitator. This distinction helped me to understand what I want my role to be within the classroom. 

Learning for the 21st Century. (2012, December 30). Use a learning theory: Constructivism [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa59prZC5gA

This YouTube video is a great, short video that describes the importance of Constructivism. I wanted to include a video to help describe my learning philosophy and this was the most effective one I found. 

Tan, S. C., & Hung, D. (2003). Beyond information pumping: Creating a constructivist e-learning environment [PDF]. Retrieved from https://repository.nie.edu.sg/bitstream/10497/4735/1/ET-42-5-48_a.pdf

I used this source for information regarding technology and e-Learning. 21st century learners require different needs compared to those of the past, and this source identifies those needs and how the education system needs to adjust for these new needs. 

Weimer, M. (2014, March 26). What’s your learning philosophy? Retrieved June 12, 2016, from Faculty focus website: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/whats-learning-philosophy/

This source initiated my thought process on how to determine my own learning philosophy and also helped me understand why I need one. It suggests some key questions and concepts that should be considered during this process.

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