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Education … Laying a Foundation for Life Long Learning

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What is Education? Many assume education is the work of only the school system and that if we don’t have at least one degree behind our name, we are not educated. Think about your best learning experiences, were they in school?

As an adult educator, I frequently ask people about their best learning experiences. Most identify one of two types of situations; a strong connection to someone we admired, (felt “seen” by, a mentor), or where there was a strong emotional experience. The research is conclusive. Our strongest learning occurs when emotion is engaged. A perceived negative experience teaches us what we don’t want. To truly utilize the learning, we must flip it, defining what we want, focusing our energy toward a new defined hoped for perception or target.

I have often had the occasion to work with people who perceived their formal schooling as a negative experience. They describe their experience as one of feeling isolated, unseen, they perceived their way of learning, of accessing the world, was invalidated.

The word education comes from Latin “educare” which means “to lead out”. Education is a combination of a myriad of experiences combined with questioning to access and expand one’s thinking.

Everyone learns in a unique way. We now know the IQ test, North Americas’ primary intelligence test for the past 50 years, is culturally biased. Howard Gardners’ recent research on Multiple Intelligence is changing the face of formal education. He has scientifically substantiated at least 8 intelligences: Verbal/Linguistic, Logical/Mathematical, Visual/Spatial, Body/Kinesthetic, Musical/Rhythmic, Interpersonal, Intra-Personal, Naturalist. Most people develop four of the above, though, all can be learned.

The significance: Historically, educators were stronger in the Logical/ Mathematical, Visual/Spatial, Verbal/Linguistic, and Interpersonal, so were the children who performed well academically. Those that performed poorly were generally strong in the other four. This information gave me a means of understanding my learning foundation, and that of my children.

Education is everyone’s business. We are all learning. Participating in a wide variety of experiences taps all intelligence; honoring individual strengths, validating each persons’ experience of the world and assisting us to develop our weaker intelligence.

George Bernard Shaw once said “What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.”

Success in education will depend on our ability to: feel good about ourselves as learners, creatively problem solve, and work with others acknowledging the interconnectedness of all.