What Did You Learn Today?

This question is generally reserved for children after a day of school during dinner time or en route to soccer practice or piano lessons.  I delighted to see this question posed for all to consider in the middle of summer.  I was on a quest to lay claim to the perfect log at Kits Beach.  My goal was to breathe in the sea air, photosynthesize and finish my most recent book, The Home for Unwanted Girls, by Joanna Goodman.  And I learned a lot about “The Great Darkness” and abuse of power of the Duplessis years in Quebec during the mid 20th century, the French-English divide, the human capacity for cruelty, resilience, and the significance of sharing a story in the process of healing.  And over dinner, I shared that learning with my husband, because it was engaging and interesting and reinforced with information checking via the internet.  Generally we want to share the things that interest us.

The most exciting part of current educational research has been the heightened awareness of the role of curiosity in our learning through out life.  The answer to the question will depend largely on what we’re choosing to fill our time with.  A trek to the Jericho Sailing Centre lends itself to all kinds of learning.  Why are there so many fearless bunnies there?  What are the conditions for a perfect paddle?  A detour from the bike ride through Tatlow Park begs the question – why was so much more water running through here when I was a kid?  Will the proposed restoration of the park change that?  An aborted trip to our family cabin in the Sierra Nevadas, creates an awareness of just how many fires are burning in Southern Oregon and California, and the health concerns around smoke inhalation.

As a school principal, of course I value learning at school.  However I think that we do not want to define learning as what happens exclusively in a specific building from 9 am to 3 pm on weekdays during the school year.  I am hoping that my students are having amazing learning experiences during the summer that are not strictly defined by what will get them better grades or make them more successful in their future careers.

I want them to take time to go outside and observe and ask questions.  I want them to hang out with their friends and relatives and laugh.   I want them to get lots of exercise and aspire to a high level of physical fitness and wellness.  I want them to take the risk to learn something new.  I want them to read lots of books and empathize with the characters, consider other realities, fact check on the internet and talk about them with friends and relatives.  Ultimately I want them to do what I’m doing.   Then I want them to come back to school with new ideas to share and a curious mind for continued learning in the school, outside in nature, and in the rest of the school community.

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