“Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday school. These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. . . . Be aware of wonder.”
So says Robert Fulghum in “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”
When we rediscovered this recently, it was a reminder that learning is an eternal companion whose acquaintance we make very, very early in life. At its beginning, in fact. Wow. Talk about a silent partner.
Teaching and learning are the dual magic that blossoms around us each day of our existence. It is the long and short of how we become better human beings–the hard and soft interactions that shape our minds and personalities.
Education tries to formalize this process and succeeds to a certain extent, especially in the beginning. Those of us who have been teachers have been participants in this process. So have the parents among us. But you don’t have to be either to witness understanding blooming right before your eyes. It happens every day in countless one-on-one interactions.
Not only have we all witnessed it in little people in their formative years, we have all been—are—active players. Sometimes, the role is player/coach, depending on the need and situation. As we march along in life, teaching and learning get more complicated and convoluted. But we can’t help but think that there are some fundamentals here that never go out of style.
The value of storytelling, the power of examples, the weight of repetition and the remarkable impact of application: They will never lose their place in the teaching/learning equation. Just ask a 50-something factory worker faced with the necessity of retraining.
No matter how sophisticated our methods for organizing and sharing knowledge become, we think learning at its very heart is as innocent, natural and intuitive as child’s play. There will always be an elemental simplicity about how learners process information and make it their own. It’s food for thought as we go about the business of elearning.