Where Do We Learn?

Reflecting on teaching this semester and what I’ve learned throughout my life, a simple question came to mind: where do we learn? The quick answer may be school. But, it’s so much broader than school. While, globally networked learning and COIL (Collaboration Online International Learning) are interesting, what about all of the learning that takes place outside of the classroom?

Besides school, I think of all the things I learned from my mom. Things like balancing a budget, growing food in a garden, helping neighbors, and how to be a decent person. Boy Scouts played a big role in my life and I learned about teamwork, about treating the environment with respect, how to make a fire, how to rescue someone who’s drowning, and what it means to be a leader. Through the various jobs I worked, I learned how to cook and I think, most importantly, I learned about people. I met people whom I normally would not have and part of their experiences washed over me. I worked with line cooks from Alaska, librarians, and migrant workers in vineyards. Another source of learning was books. I mainly read fiction, but I feel like I began to understand how fiction worked. Beyond those mechanics, I lived through characters’ experiences, visited places far beyond Michigan, and encountered situations unlike my own.

That question, where do we learn, came to mind because I was thinking of the lives of my students outside of the classroom. What experiences are shaping or have shaped their knowledge? How does learning continue after they graduate? What will be the lessons that they carry with them? What will they remember and where did they learn it?

If you have ideas or more questions, please use the comments below. Where are the places in which you learned and what did you learn there?

Tim Lepczyk

Writer, Technologist, and Librarian.

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