Summer is upon us! This month, the final school bell rings and the doors fly open sending our students out into the sunshine eagerly anticipating free time, the chance to engage in personal interests and the future start of a new school year. As professionals, this time will also offer many of us similar opportunities. Some will take the chance to be with family and friends while others may even travel expanding their worldview and experience with new cultures. Regardless of what the summer holds for you, I want to invite you to use the time to keep learning.
So, what then makes a learner? I like to think of a learner as someone who is curious about the world and actively seeks opportunities to discover how it works, the people that live in it and the role we personally play in making it a positive place to be.
Being a learner is so much more than studying or digging into textbooks. While these are important parts of learning, the informal classroom is much more expansive. There are many ways to learn! Some of the best learning happens outside of a formal setting and takes place in our informal day-to-day interactions. In fact, we often cite research that shows that the best learning in the classroom is learning that is highly relevant and deeply connected to the world around us. Summer offers our students (and us) the chance to apply the things they learned all year in a school setting to their personal lives in a less structured, meaningful way.
Real-world applications are the very things that solidify our understanding of the concepts we study and move them from theoretical to usable knowledge. Kendra Cherry, an educator and psychologist, said, “For many students, learning typically involves reading textbooks, attending lectures, or doing research in the library or online. While seeing information and then writing it down is important, actually putting new knowledge and skills into practice can be one of the best ways to improve learning.” Outside, in our everyday lives, we can integrate new knowledge acquired across various disciplines in school and truly make sense of our interconnected surroundings. Imagine all the new ideas generated from that!
So, this summer let’s all stay curious! Make a goal to try something you have never tried before. Dig into an activity that challenges you in a new way. Start a new hobby or interact with new people. Not only will you have fun, but I’m positive that you will enrich your life learning something new along the way.