Happy, Emotional Learning

binoculars clipboards

I’ve been thinking a lot about learning:  I’m surprised, in a new way, to realize how personal it is.  Although some of the learning theorists I’ve studied have built whole theories on how personalized learning is, it’s amazing me now from a new point of view, a more emotional perspective.  Here’s what it says about learning at Dictionary.com:

–noun

  1. knowledge acquired by systematic study in any field of scholarly application.
  2. the actor process of acquiring knowledge or skill.  I like this one!
  3. Psychology. the modification of behavior through practice, training, or experience.

–verb

  1. to acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience:  to learn french; to learn to ski.
  2. to become informed of or acquainted with; ascertain:  to learn the truth.
  3. to memorize:  He learned the poem so he could recite it at the dinner.
  4. to gain(a habit, mannerism, etc.) by experience, exposure to example, or the like; acquire:  She learned patience from her father.
  5. (of a device or machine, esp. a computer) to perform an analogue of human learning with artificial intelligence.
  6. Nonstandard. to instruct in; teach.

There are aspects of learning with which I have always been familiar and reflect the things studied during teaching training.  What is interesting to me is the emotionally personal side of learning; the state I find myself in when I am learning something, the “actor process of acquiring knowledge or skill”:

  • I am engaged.
  • I am focused.
  • I don’t like to be interrupted.
  • I am feeling something—it could be any one of a range of emotions.
  • I am solving something.
  • I am meeting a need I have.
  • I am experimenting.

Learning–at least the kind I do on my own–is exciting, fun, exhilarating, challenging, motivating, time-stopping, relentless! Having been trained to work with students who have emotional disabilities, I understand the relationship between emotional health and learning, I’ve explored ways to help students learn in spite of emotional stressors, I’ve set up situations to lessen or de-escalate emotional conditions, but I haven’t spent much time looking at the individual emotional characteristics of healthy, natural, joyful learning!  I’ve evaluated teaching styles that are most effective for me and my students.  I’ve thought about conditions which facilitate learning, but oh how learning, including the kind done at school, requires something that is so fresh, unique, and personal!

I’m contemplating classroom design and instructional style that supports a learner’s workshop.  How do I meet the unique, personally emotional needs of all students?  Can I build differentiation into the structure of my classroom and teaching methods?  Hmmm…

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