WHY TO LEARN? LEARN FOR WHAT?
🌳 Authentic learning is the foundation of every educational reform.
There can be many ways to define authentic learning. One definition I would like to propose is the 3-level authentic learning model: Know-Live-Be.
If we learn to gain knowledge for ourselves, we are at the first level of authentic learning. “Learn to KNOW” simply means we learn because we want to know something.
Transforming gained knowledge into attitudes and behaviors in our work and life, we reach the second level: “Know to LIVE”.
Those attitudes, behaviors, and ways of living if sustained in a sufficient period of time, temporary changes will become permanent, hence forming our characters and culture. We will be another person, live another life and have another destiny, which means we have recreated our life. This is the highest level of authentic learning: “Live to BE”, i.e. be the person we want and lead the life we dream.
In a session discussing the topic “On Learning” with a team of university leaders and lecturers, one lecturer asked me, “If we summed up authentic learning in one sentence, what would it be?” I replied by another question: “If this university did not issue any degree, would anyone attend? If yes, then it would be authentic learning.”
Learning motivation and purposes are crucial. In other words, if we want to be committed and passionate about learning, we should identify our learning mission (the goal and the way of learning) for our own, schools, families, and country. I often shared that an individual’s learning goal is to become a better version of oneself ( a better me), and this is a lifetime journey. In life, we may fall yet we can stand up stronger and keep on trying to be better.
Our learning goal is not necessarily to become a good person; we only aim to be better. Learning to be a good person would face considerable pressure and impracticality; therefore, we would easily feel useless. Moreover, once we become a good person, we will have a misconception that we need not continue learning. Nonetheless, if our learning goal is to be a better person, we will believe in ourselves, others, life and in the fact that everybody can be better thanks to authentic learning. Based on the learning mission, we will realize our life mission (what we live for) and even career mission (what we work for).
🌳 Learning revolution starts with each person.
Nowadays, many people talk about “education reform”, but in my opinion, we should care for “learning revolution”. For the nature of “education reform” is “learning revolution”, i.e. everybody aims to authentic learning and learns to achieve self-enlightenment, widen their minds, and free their potentials. “Learning revolution” is taking the ownership of creating oneself. Each life is a masterpiece that one creates.
I often say that “education reform” is the duty of the state and everyone in the society; thus we need the collective resources of the whole nation. Meanwhile, “learning revolution” depends on each person; the learning revolution is “of myself, by myself and for myself”. Anyone can do it without any permission or reliance. It may take many years to plan an “education reform”, but “learning revolution” can start right now or tomorrow as long as we are determined.
“Learning revolution” can be followed by “teaching revolution” as teaching means helping others learn. When teachers change themselves towards authentic learning, they will find ways to assist their students in accomplishing it. Many reacted that this could not be put into practice since education in Vietnam still had many constraints. However, in general education, teachers are the model of what they are teaching. If teachers’ learning gets better, their teaching will obviously improve as well, not only at school but also at home. The accomplishment by a large number of people’s “learning revolution” will bring about the “education reform” for the whole society, which stems from authentic learning.
🌳 We can work for others, but we cannot learn for others.
Whether we let circumstances create us or we create our circumstances depends on ourselves. Each person can start authentic learning with the rule “2W1H” (Why, What and How). When choosing a learning direction, we can raise questions including “Why do we learn and what do we learn for?”, “What do we learn to reach the goals?” and “How do we learn?”
Learners should be able to answer the above-mentioned questions. If the answers are clear and relevant to our self-development, then it is authentic learning. The “2W1H” rule can be applied for 12 years of general education, 4 years of university training, as well as with all programs we study. Teachers, parents, or superiors are only catalysts for our self-enlightenment journey; we are the one to decide our own learning.
In conclusion, we can work for others but we cannot learn for others or live for others. Learning and living are for ourselves. In other words, the input of education is the learner; the output of education is “a different person” driven by ourselves while families, schools and the society only play a supporting role on our journey of “authentic learning and self-enlightenment”.
- GIAN TU TRUNG
Published on “Authentic learning, Authentic examination” Forum of Tuoi Tre Newspaper on May 17, 2021.