“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.” ~ Abigail Adams
Do you ever get a song stuck in your head? Does it play over and over and over again? Does it play when you are awake and even when you are asleep? This phenomenon happened to me this week.
I used this video of a group of darling kindergarteners singing “Never Stop Learning” in a professional learning opportunity with a group of teacher. Up until last weekend I had never heard of this song by Theresa Jennings.
Since I could not get the song out of my head, I did a little more research on the song. I learned that it is the finale song of the children’s musical Education Rocks! The revue is a thought-provoking rock ballad with a powerful message that we should always keep learning, no matter how old we are – just as the refrain suggests:
“Never stop learning. Never stop growing.
Never stop seeking the brightest star.
Never stop moving from where you are.
Never stop trying. Never stop reaching.
Never stop doing what you can do.
Never stop growing your whole life through (always).”
My love of learning, love of musical theater, and the fact that Learning is Growing is the name of my blog makes this a pretty special song. This trio is probably the reason this song plays over and over, and yes and over – in my mind. WOW! Now my blog has a theme song!
It was once okay for educators to feel like they had the answers. Maybe they didn’t have to keep learning. As a young child I loved to play school in my basement classroom. I would carry around old “teacher’s manuals” that my teachers would give to me. I loved having the answers within my reach. When in doubt, I could always turn to my trusty manual to provide the answer to any problem. As a beginning teacher, I gravitated back to the manuals. The worksheets. The answers. How else would I know if students really understood?
Luckily, my love of learning transformed my teaching. I was able to move to a student-centered approach. The reader and writer workshop methods prevailed. Literature circles created a buzz in my classroom. Hands on science and math approaches were the norm. I felt empowered learning right along with my students. Together we discovered how to read like a writer, write like an author, think like a mathematician and discover like a scientist.
I left the classroom in 2000, right at the onset of No Child Left Behind. In the past 13 years I watched classroom teachers lose their spark and gravitate to having to have the answers. They feel obligated to make sure their students can choose the right answer from the 4 multiple choice possibilities on a state exam. They work hard. They want what is best for kids. They are caring and compassionate - yet a multiple choice test hangs over their heads like a black cloud. It seems as though it is about the answers.
In reality it is 2013. Information is growing at speeds to fast to even comprehend. There is no way we can keep up. There is no way we can have the answers. As educators we need to let go of the fact that we can’t hold all the answers. Education is not about the answers. It is our jobs to create a sense of wonder and learning within our students. In order to do so, we have to find that sense of wonder and continuous learning ourselves. Pam Allyn, author of Be Core Ready, suggests we as educators have to “change the paradigm from teacher as leader to teacher as co-traveler.” I love that phrase – let’s co-travel with students and fellow educators as we navigate teaching and learning in the 21st century! Let’s bring back a sense of inquiry and wonder.
John P. Kotter, author of Leading Change, not only provides insight on the development of leadership skills, but also clarifies five mental habits successful leaders (and in this case all educators) will need to support lifelong learning. The five habits serve as a road map as we co-travel on the road of lifelong learning!
I thought I’d curate a few quotes for each of Kotter’s five mental habits. Perhaps they will help you reflect on your own learning journey!
I love quotes. In the past I collected them in notebooks. I especially remember vividly copying all the wonder quotes on my high school graduation cards into the special notebooks – that I still have today – but never use. Now I have the Internet! Quotes have always provided me with an opportunity to reflect, to learn, to grow. If I need inspiration to persist in my dreams, I look up quotes. If I am struggling with something, I find quotes to conquer those thoughts and move on.
Kotter’s 5 mental habits successful leaders will need to support lifelong learning include:
- Risk taking: Willingness to push oneself out of comfort zones
- “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy
- “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
- “Be fearful of mediocrity.” – Jonathan Ellery
- Humble self-reflection: Honest assessment of successes and failures, especially the later
- “A failure teaches you that something can’t be done—that way.” – Thomas Edison
- Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement. – Henry Ford
- “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit. – Conrad Hilton
- “Failure is success we learn from.” – Malcolm Forbes
- “There are now secrets to success. It is the result of preparation and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
- Solicitation of opinions: Aggressive collection of information and ideas from others
- “When we put our heads together, when we trade, borrow and acquire ideas from each other, we all win.” – Dr. Gene R. Carter, ASCD Executive Director and CEO
- “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
- “Collaboration allows teachers to capture each other’s fund of collective intelligence.” –Mike Schmoker, Results
No one person, no one alliance, no one nation, no one of us is as smart as all of us thinking together.— James Stavridis
- Careful listening: Propensity to listen to others
- “The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.” – Alfred Brendel
- “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” – Peter Drucker
- “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply. – Stephen R. Covey
- Openness to new ideas: Willingness to view life with an open mind
- “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned, so that we have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell
- “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try. – Dr. Seuss
- “When you exhaust all the possibilities remember this: You haven’t! – Thomas Edison
Do you have a favorite quote that would fit in one of these 5 habits for lifelong learning? I would love to hear your ideas!
Never stop learning. Never stop growing.