you're reading...
Philosophical Meanderings

Gifts Without Strings

|Kelly Tenkely|

Every day educators around the world, and certainly within Cooperative Catalyst, freely share the gift of learning. We extend the invitation on an ongoing basis through blog posts, conversations on Twitter, videos, shared resources and free webinars.  We share with others for the common goal of growth.  It is a beautiful picture of a community of learners, giving without the expectation of reciprocity.  Sure we love when someone comments on the post we so carefully crafted, or passes on a resource we have discovered, but we don’t really share with those goals in mind. We share because we know that in doing so, we have given a gift of ourselves.

With every post that is fed into my Google Reader, with every conversation I engage in and learning opportunity I encounter, I am being given a gift of learning.  Those that feed my learning are not expecting anything in return, they are giving freely and adding to the learning community.

What gifts of learning are we giving our students?  What learning opportunities are we offering freely without expectations of reciprocity (an assignment, test, homework, grade)?  Gifts without strings attached are funny things, when we give them, the receiver feels a desire to give something in return.  Might we be limiting students in learning by not giving learning more freely?  Might we be inadvertently telling students what learning is worth and where and how learning must be done?

The current school system is set up as more of an equal trade system.  If I, the teacher, give you knowledge, you must reciprocate by doing well on the test/assignment/homework.  This type of system doesn’t foster a community of learners that is constantly expanding and evolving. It tells students that in taking that test, turning in that assignment, getting that grade, that the work here is done. The teacher did their part and the student reciprocated accordingly.

What if we allowed more time for learning to be viewed as a gift?  What if we gave to our students without constantly expecting something in return?  Could we build a community of learners? Could we help shape students in their learning and help them understand the joy of giving?  I think Google is on to something with their 20% rule. Giving freely without expecting something in return-the results speak for themselves.

What gifts are you giving? How are you helping students understand the joy of giving freely?


About ktenkely

Specializing in instructional technology Professional development. Consulting. Teaching.


6 thoughts on “Gifts Without Strings

  1. This is an excellent post about the gifts we give students. I love your question What gifts of learning are we giving our students? I think in teaching we get so consumed with the details that we don’t think about the actual act of teaching. Your point about creating a community is also very important. This is a good reflective post as many of our teachers are wrapping up another busy year!

    Posted by Meg Ormiston | May 27, 2011, 1:53 pm
  2. I guess I think about this in a slightly different way: if I am passionate about what I am learning, and deeply interested in it myself, and I explain my journey of learning about this in some intriguing way, then it’s fun to learn from me. And that’s a gift. When it’s fun, when it’s interesting, when it’s arresting, that’s a learning gift.

    I think the part of your formulation that is missing for me is that learning, deep learning, involves consent. A learner has to consent to be changed, transformed, altered by the learning being offered–it isn’t just a matter of accepting a gift freely given?


    Posted by Kirsten Olson | May 28, 2011, 1:13 pm
  3. I think we have to offer trust, space, time, and presence before, during, and after students’ decisions if we’re going to create more humane classrooms and schools. If we are prepared to offer those things of ourselves, then kids – over time – will find a way to take advantage of them responsibly.

    I think about servant leadership quite a bit – especially about the duties of the servant leader to fulfill legitimate needs and to step aside if the group wants to pursue illegitimate wants or needs, or even legitimate wants that are fulfilled at the expense of legitimate needs. What is “legitimate” in a public school classroom? How do teachers and students foster an understanding of the differences between needs and want, as well as between the legitimate and illegitimate? How are needs and wants aligned? When is a want a mask for a deeper need?

    The best gift the system could give all learners is the autonomy to form their own relationships with one another and the work.

    As it stands, teachers and students, both, in public schools are asked to play dress-up in traditional roles dictated by the purpose of the school system, which is patently inhuman.

    Why Google time at 20%? Why not our time at 100%? What would have to change in schools and teacher training to “earn” that?


    Posted by Chad Sansing | May 31, 2011, 8:21 am


  1. Pingback: iLearn Technology » Blog Archive » Friday Recap - May 27, 2011

  2. Pingback: The Learning Blog » Friday Recap - June 3, 2011

  3. Pingback: Ourselves and Others « creatingreciprocity - June 11, 2011

Join the Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4,097 other followers

Comments are subject to moderation.

%d bloggers like this: