March 25, 2012

Connecting Dots

A Radiolab video reminds us what it means to learn

When we explore what it means to learn, or try to define what happens when a kid experiences an ah-ha moment, we’re going to happen upon any number of key ideas or attributes. Perhaps its most profound when it’s experiential. Maybe it’s persistent when it’s rote. It might be richest when it’s goal-oriented or easiest when it’s motivated by a kid's peers. It could be most inspiring when it’s self-directed.

Whatever the attributes, whatever the cause, and however complex the resulting dynamic, learning might also be something quite simple: the process of making connections.

The folks at Radiolab, a public radio program out of WNYC in New York, may not have set out with the above video to illustrate such an idea. The digital short is more about language, the flexibility of words and their multiple, simultaneous values. Like saying, “you’re a dear, dear.” (Deer!) But language is a key instrument in demonstrating that something’s been learned, and watching this, well, it helps make that connection.

Latest Reads

About Learning Starts

LEARNING STARTS is a quick digital guide to education and learning now. Written with today's parents in mind, our guide is optimistic because we’re excited about all that’s happening to engage young people in classrooms and community organizations around the world.

read more

K-5 Kids

We’ve talked about the importance of reading with your kids and serving as models for lifelong learning. Research continues to highlight the value of the shared practice for developing their literacy skills, preparing them for elementary school and the world beyond.

Middle School

We’ve been hearing about game-based learning for quite some time, along with the promise that any day now software engineers and game designers will figure out a way to harness the near-addictive enthusiasm kids bring to video games to help them learn. That day might indeed be close, given the big names now throwing energy and resources at the challenge, including Bill Gates himself.

High School

Contributing to Five Things I’ve Learned, Dr. Russell J. Quaglia, the president and founder of the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations (QISA), reminds us that asking questions is easy. Engaging students and helping them move forward with their ambitions is what makes real change—and brilliant futures—possible.