A Natural Critical Learning Environment

Source: Best Teachers Institute, Jun 2012

People Learn Best and Most Deeply When:

  • They try to answer questions or solve problems they find interesting, intriguing, important, or beautiful;
  • They can try to answer the question or solve the problems then receive feedback and try again before anyone “grades” them on their efforts;
  • They can work collaboratively with other learners struggling with the same problems;
  • They have lots of opportunities to speculate about possible answers or solutions even before they know much about the subject, and to receive feedback on those speculations;
  • They face repeated challenges to their existing fundamental paradigms;
  • They can get support (emotional, physical, and intellectual) when they need it;
  • They care that their existing paradigms do not work;
  • They believe that they are in control of their own learning, not manipulated;
  • They believe that their work will be considered fairly and honestly;
  • They believe that their work will matter, that it will have significant consequences for themselves and/or their world;
  • They believe that intelligence and abilities are expandable, that if they work hard, they will get better at it;
  • They believe other people have faith in their ability to learn;
  • They believe that they can learn;
  • They have an opportunity to “do the discipline” before they fully “know the discipline; in other words, they have an opportunity to learn by doing;
  • They have an opportunity to learn inductively moving from specific example and experience to general principles, rather than from the general to the specific.

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