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What If Learning Is Discovery and...

... discovery is learning?

If you've read or heard anything by me for the past decade plus, you know my thoughts on curiosity: it's a natural resource that can be converted into anything including--and especially--learning.

But what is learning?

We tend to define learning by outcomes, i.e. what we learned. We also tend connect our individual inspirations for learning to those outcomes to create a complete composite of "learning." Yet, we rarely consider the actual process of learning as if it is too complex or variable to conceive. But what if, it's pretty simple?

What if learning is discovery? Nothing more, nothing less.

There's something you didn't know. Now you know it. Maybe, "magic" could be a suitable synonym.

Watching my 10 month old son discover the flow of water from the faucet in the bathtub maintains a coherent vertical structure that can easily be penetrated horizontally with a wave of a hand was pure magic. This learning may not seem significant in and of itself, but furthers a flow of discovery chased by moments of wonder that will keep his curiosity fueling his quest to learn more for decades to come.

If learning is this simple, why don't we embrace it? Better yet, why don't we use it to our advantage?

What if, no matter who you teach or what you teach them, discovery should be the initial goal; after that, it's all gravy. Once you lead learners to points of discovery, learning becomes an entirely different activity: it becomes relevant, it becomes participatory, it becomes active, it becomes natural.

How do we make discovery an essential part of learning? If you're in a hurry, check out the Curiosity-Based Learning process, "Discovery Learning." If you've got a little more time, think back to your last birthday. Think about the presents you opened. When were you the most stoked: after you opened your presents or while you were opening them?

It's that collision of anticipation and action that makes discovery such an overpowering feeling. It's also what learning is.

How are you engaging your learners' discovery, as you facilitate their learning? Are you giving them content to study, memorize, and regurgitate or are you giving them presents to open, own, and cherish?

Every lesson doesn't have to be the number one present on a learners wish list either. Sometimes, we get socks. But we still get the feels opening them. Same goes for learning. Learners aren't stupid. That doesn't mean as educators we can't deliver learning in a way that creates feelings of discovery.

Your challenge is to find a way to include some simple act of discovery in the next learning experience you create... then, another. It won't be long before every learning experience you share is one full of discovery... and learning.


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