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?