From Teachers' Manifesto to Learners' Manifesto

John Connell, Weblog, Aug 11, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I like the idea of a learner's manifesto, but this manifesto reads as students' instructions to teachers. That's not a manifesto (which is typically a call to action for ourselves) but rather a list of demands (or maybe preferences). A real learners' manifesto would contain a list of statements from learners about what we will do with respect to learning. For example, instead of telling teachers to "place more emphasis on the skills that will help young people to progress and prosper in the twenty-first century..." it would say "we will study 21st-century skills..."

This is not just a wording change. It's a change in attitude. It is a statement that we (learners) will take control of our own learning, and that no manner what it taught in the classroom, we will convert it to ways we can help ourselves learn critical thinking, focus on real-world problems, embrace diversity, and the rest of it. Or as I sometimes tell people when they ask about my work history: "if I just did my job as I was told, I'd still be doing that job. What I did instead was to transform my job into a way to accomplish my goals."
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