The Power of Purpose

Learning Quote

What is your purpose for learning this year?

Often times, I meet people who go through school, trainings, workshops — a host of learning experiences – either unclear of their purpose or simply to fulfill a purpose outlined for them by someone else. If I had a dime for every time I asked a student, “What are you learning today? Why do you think Mr./Mrs. Soandso wants you to do this?” and was met with the response, “Um, I don’t know,” well…I’d have a LOT more dimes. Enough dimes to open my own school, that’s for certain. How many students sit through classes day after day uncertain as to their purpose for learning, or believing that the purpose is not theirs to define? Even worse is the idea that classroom learning is simply to perform on a test – yikes! It’s no wonder so many of our students disengage; without a vested interest in what you are learning, there is little to hang your heart, and mind, on.

And then there’s professional learning. When I was teacher I sat through eons of workshops that were selected for me as “quality learning experiences” and “necessary for professional growth.” Sadly, after about 30-45 minutes, I found myself grading papers and catching up on my email, or even (I shamefully must admit) playing Hangman with a colleague (today, that would be Words with Friends, right?).

The most meaningful professional learning experiences for me have been those in which I chose to participate based on what I wanted to learn – a self-defined purpose for learning. Enrolling in a Masters program, taking continuing education courses in literacy, reading professional journals connected to leadership and instruction, and collaborating with other instructional leaders who share similar passions…all of these experiences advanced my thinking and learning because I had a clear, focused, and self-defined purpose for engaging in them.

What is your purpose for learning this year?

As we move into 2014, I encourage you to reflect upon this question. With the many changes facing public schools across the Nation, I recommend that all educators, parents, legislators, and students examine our purpose for making these changes and the impact they have on our learning experiences.

Teachers: Look beyond tests and assessments to find the true learning, bring this to the surface, and provide engaging and enriching experiences for your students.

Parents/Guardians: Advocate for your children–not by fighting against your schools but by helping your children find their purpose for learning. Model thinking and learning for your children and learn with them.

Legislators: Include all stakeholders in your decision-making process, and consider the purpose for others when making changes to education.

Students: Remember when you were little how fun it was to ask questions and go exploring to find the answers? This is learning! Ask questions, and use all of the amazing available resources to find answers. Then, ask more questions. And read.

Once you find your purpose, set out on exciting and meaningful new learning opportunities. Pick up an interesting book to read, take a new class, join a social network of others who share your inquiries and interests, plan an exploration (this can even be in your own backyard or town)…fulfill your purpose, and see how wondrous and powerful learning can really be.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a Comment