Many great educators have said many great things about the importance of lifelong learning skills. John Dewey, however, probably said it best:
“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
Educators want their students to succeed in and out of the classroom. The idea is to make sure that once they leave school, they no longer need us. In essence, the students must become the teachers. The point is that they never stop being learners.
This is what it means to be a lifelong learner. Below are a few ways that you can give this mindset to your students.
Give Students Lifelong Learning Skills
1. Encourage Learning Ownership
Ultimately, we are responsible for our own learning. Outside school, students will be expected to learn on their own. Giving them this freedom early on will serve them well in the future. When students own their learning, it sticks with them.
It’s also important to show students the rewards of taking such responsibility. This includes higher self-esteem, pride in achievement, and the independence they want. It also adds to their ability to help others.
2. Turn Mistakes Into Opportunties
Useful failure is one of the best lifelong learning skills a student can master. There is so much we can learn from making mistakes. Albert Einstein claimed that anyone who hasn’t made mistakes hasn’t tried anything new. Mistakes remind us we’re human, and that we tried. They show us better ways to think and work. They give us insights into hidden knowledge and awareness.
Trying new things and stretching ourselves helps us grow mentally and emotionally. So do the mistakes that will inevitably come with this. Our students are both tough and fragile at the same time. As teachers we must always treat mistakes as opportunities, and never as crimes.
3. Collect Some Go-To Learning Tools
Everyone has tricks that help them learn. For some, it’s mental repetition. For others, it’s creating a spur-of-the-moment song about what they want to learn. There are dozens of things you can do to help you learn better.
Do your students regularly read blogs or listen to podcasts? Are they news buffs? Maybe they’re avid readers? Do they enjoy debates and discussions to share knowledge and ideas? Try to give them opportunities to do these things when you can. If they give them a thirst for learning and growing, that’s a good thing.
4. Let Them Teach Others
Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience was developed in the 1960s. Since then, it has been represented in numerous graphical adaptations. They are diverse in content, but they all seem to agree on one thing. They agree that learning retention is maximized when we teach our knowledge to someone else.
Who are your mentors in class? Who are the ones who are assisting others and guiding their peers? These students can impart valuable lessons of learning ownership and knowledge sharing to others. Such pupils can be an inspiration to many.
5. Find Time to Play
Any theatre actor will tell you why a play is called a play. It’s because onstage, that’s exactly what you do. In doing so, you learn about yourself and others. You learn communication, comprehension, and unique social skills. You bring stories alive to teach others. The experience is enjoyable to you and to those watching.
Play is an important part of learning. It’s essential that learning is fun and enjoyable. Otherwise, students will resist it. They will associate learning with unpleasant intellectual and emotional feelings. They’ll see it as a chore, rather than the adventure it was meant to be.
6. Set Learning Goals
This means having the end clearly in mind. Learning must have a purpose. There must be a valid and worthwhile reason for it. It must be a meaningful and useful experience we can move forward with in our lives. This is especially true for our students. Setting goals is one of those lifelong learning skills that strengthens their desire to learn.
Lifelong Learning Skills: Our Gift to Students
No matter where they are in life, we must make sure they continue learning and growing. We do this by making sure they want to. That is the gift we give them when we release them into the waiting world.