Are they Students or are they Learners?

Art they being students or learners?

Flickr photo by Taro416

A while back I spent the day working with a group of about 150 educators who’d been brought together by one of their state’s regional service centers. I find it a particularly cruel thing to do, forcing a group of adults to spend six-hours paying attention to one person. So on this day, I decided to break things up a bit — and model an element of one of my ongoing messages, teaching in order to make yourself obsolete. I decided to by facilitating a discussion activity that I’d seen once and recently read about, but can’t recall the name of right now. The activity involved a continually shifting panel of experts from the audience, who could only answer questions, and members of the audience, who could only ask questions. I inserted my two cents worth only when I simply couldn’t help myself.

Out of that conversation came a goodly and completely predictable amount of push back. It was along the lines of, “I agree with everything that David is saying, and believe that this is where we need to be, but…” The “buts” were the typical barriers to retooling classrooms, including, but not limited to government testing, government testing, and government testing. But another area of concern that surfaced more than once was a reluctance to trust their students to take advantage of the tools and opportunities for learning that I was suggesting and demonstrating. There is a belief that students are lazy, intrinsically unmotivated, and willing only to use these empowering tools for shortcuts.

I’ve been noodling over this, trying to figure out the nature of this reluctance that the teachers and principals were referring to and the nature of their perceptions. Equally important is coming up with a language to describe the problem. What surfaced in my own thinking was that educators continue to think of their charges as students, rather than thinking of them as learners.

I spend a lot of time, these days, talking and writing about how we are asking teachers to redefine what it means to be a teacher — and, in all fairness, how difficult that is. I try to present myself as a master learner, suggesting that part of what teachers should be, today, is constant and resourceful learners — master learners. But perhaps a significant part of this exercise in redefinition should involve our students — an explicit remolding of perceptions of these youngsters, in order to fully shift the relationship between student and teacher, learner and master learner.

So let me see if I can distinguish between these notions of students and learners.


Relationship with educators
Students are employees, expected to obediently follow instructions.
Learners are citizens with a vested interest in the learning society.
Relationship with other “Students”
Students are competitors
Learners are collaborators
Obligation: Students are culturally obliged to work for the teacher & for compensation (below)
Responsibility: Learners are motivated by an understood and realized “value” in their work, especially when it is valuable to others.
Institution-defined grades and gateways to college (another institution) and a good job (another institution)
A sense of ongoing accomplishment that is not delivered but earned, and not symbolic but tangible and valuable — an investment.
Mode of Operation
Compliant, group-disciplined, objective-oriented, and trainable
Persevering, self-disciplined, group-, goal-and product-oriented, resourceful, and learning in order to produce and accomplish rather than simply achieving learning.
..with packaged knowledge and tools for recording packaged knowledge — prescribed and paced learning
..with tools for exploring a networked variety of content, experimenting with that content, and discovering, concluding, and constructing knowledge — self-invented learning
Measuring what has been learned.
Measuring what the learner can do with what has been learned.

One of the problems that I struggled with, as I was writing and ordering these qualities was that I wanted to put assessment, for the student, at the top of the list — and assessment, for the learner, at the bottom. For the student, assessment is king, in very much the same way that quality control is such a critical part of the manufacturing processes. But assessment, for learners, is much less obvious, and at the same time, it is much more integral to the learning. Assessment for classrooms of learners is the enormous amounts of qualitative data that is collected by the teacher (and other students) on a minute-by-minute bases.

Assessment is also, and this is what I find most interesting, not a “right” or a “wrong” — a check (?) or an X. It is a simple self-asked question, “Did that work?”


163 thoughts on “Are they Students or are they Learners?”

  1. I really like how you laid this out and your added comment about assessment is dead-on. Perhaps the first step to changing teachers pedagogy is getting them to understand this difference.

    Who wouldn’t want to “teach” learners instead of just students. And I think this comes back to expectations of the leader. How we treat children is how they will perceive themselves.

    1. I think that it is a good question, you ask. “Wh wouldn’t want to ‘teach’ learners instead of just students?” I suspect that there are still teachers and schools who prefer compliance in their students, students learn what they are taught so that they can answer questions on a test. It’s what schooling is about in today’s highly institutional environment. Instead of school as a preparation for life, school should become the beginning of life.

      1. David, I’m struggling with this question a great deal as I try to be an effective technology integrator. Turns out of course that what we really need is not more technology but a shift in orders of the learning process. There is a palpable gap between those who see children as the learners you’ve described and those who see them as students. I found this chart very useful in summarizing the differences. Thank you.
        I am beginning to wonder if a lot of the resistance from the student oriented teachers stems from the fact that this is what they signed up for. They like the institution where roles are defined, there is a timetable to follow, and bells to remind us to do so. They want to be the center of attention in their classroom and go to the textbook for answers. This is comfortable for them, this is how they see the job. For them, this type of teaching followed followed by a definitive assessment fits into a nice, tidy box. Learning (role you’ve defined) is outside that box and will be resisted to preserve what’s comfortable.
        This gap is not age, gender, or experienced based. We cant simply wait for turnover with the next generation of Master Learners, because many of them are not. So, how do we help student oriented teachers transition to become Master Learners when many have little interest in doing so?

      2. I have, more times that I would like to admit, found myself surrounded by teachers who are completely fine settling for ‘compliance.’ Having their students learn the assigned material and produce this information onto a given assessment. However, as I begin this journey into the world of becoming a teacher, I cannot settle for compliance. I want my students to leave my classroom as ‘learners,’ ready to go out and continue learning and absorbing as much as possibly.
        I love that definition of a learner’s assessment: Measuring what the learner can do with what has been learned. The children that come into our classroom should be able to take everything they have learned while with us and see what they can do with it- more than just bubble in A, B, C or D.

  2. Spot-on, as usual, David. I gather that though NCLB and it’s obsession with standardized assessment has not been formally renewed, nor has it been supplanted with less dictatorial doctrine. When will calmer and more masterful voices prevail? Where’s the alternative proposal that incorporates leading thought along the lines you propose? Shall we craft it?

    1. I think that we’ve been crafting it — many of us. But we’re not tying it all together. We’re not bringing it back around in circle. There are a lot of really smart people suggesting really smart things that are oh so compelling. But we aren’t finishing the story, because we’re just telling it to each other rather than producing the finished show.

      Exceptions, of course, are schools that have been given permission to reinvent schooling. But who, among the powers that be, are paying attention to them?

      I don’t know. Do we need to get louder?

  3. Right on the money! (Again!) I have been trying to make the point that most educators have forgotten how real learning looks and feels for some time -to no avail. We have taken the play and curiosity out of our classroom practice; putting it back in relevant ways would make all of the difference. But we’ll keep throwing band-aids at the carotid bleed-out that testing has made of education. So students and their teachers who know better, will continue to pay the price.

    1. I guess that the readers of this blog would prefer learners. But I’m not sure that is universal. I guess I need to add a column to suggest the qualities of learners that might get in the way of the teaching that continues to happen in some schools.

  4. I love this post! I already shared it with my colleagues. Our county is launching a 1 to 1 laptop initiative for 6th and 7th grade students next month and as we conduct professional development workshops we are really focused on the learner, not the student. I will be using your chart next month to provoke discussion.

  5. We are constantly trying to stay on the cutting edge while still playing by all the rules. We need to get test scores up but somehow do it at the top of the digital Bloom’s scale. We go to some awful old-school workshops but manage to expand our personal learning communities via Twitter, Facebook, and Virtual Worlds. We are told to use interactive whiteboards but also put up ridiculous chart paper all over the walls to prove we are addressing specific objectives. What other job makes you keep one foot in the past while pushing you into the future?

    I have always wanted the kids who come into my room to get to the point where they were self-sufficient. Then my job becomes one of opening the next door for them and showing them what is just beyond. It should be their job to walk through and not mine to push them. Well, maybe a righteous nudge…

    1. I know what you mean about the students, Shelly. They have been well trained. It’s what school is about, or has been about — teaching them how to be students, instead of teaching them how to be learners. What’s ironic, is that it’s the good students, who make the best grades, who are going to be less prepared for a time that demands that you be able to learn, unlearn, and relearn — if our predictions are correct.

      I’d love for someone, somehow, to do some sort of study to check the success of people today, who were or were not successful students.

      Someone told me a while back about a kid in their classes, when they were young, who was a complete loser, bad grades, failed one or more grades, a cut-up who was always getting into trouble. Probably ADHD. He’s now a very well-liked, well-respected, and innovating chief of police of that town.

      1. This table really demonstrates what it is to be a good teacher. If we want our students to be learners then we have to take the risk to be learners along with them. Trust is the key here as we have to first trust ourselves that we can be learners and then trust our students to embrace this as well. What we know about trust is that if we give trust its a reciprocal arrangement. We all may have worked in a trust deficit environment where the inefficiencies manifest themselves in over communication, or lack of motivation. So I would add trust to the table and under student – low trust and under learner – high trust.

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  7. Your post is spot on in my opinion. Changing one’s vantage point can lead to dramatically different results. Winning Education is an in-home tutoring service in Montgomery County, MD and we subscribe to your idea of a learner. Our immediate goal is to help raise our students grades, but our long term goal is to teach our clients how to be independent thinkers and learners. Our slogan is always learning always growing. Thank you for this post!

    J.F. Lesoine

  8. Is it that the assessment is assessing what the have studied (as dictated by teachers forced to teach for standardised tests) rather than what the students have learned? I would suggest these are often two very different things. Maybe in the process of studying the material set by the teacher the student is learning that the best way to succeed in the class is to do what they are told, not be inquisitive, etc. What they have studied is different to what they have learned. Not sure if this is worth 2 cents, but I’ll throw it in anyway.


  9. David,
    Great distinction between the two – you are spot on. I recall as a young PhD student, I wanted to study and write about the use of coercion in schools to get students to get their work done, go to class, follow the rules, etc. My underlying premise was, and still is, that school is simply a series of coercive activities that students are obligated to do. She would have none of it and vehemently denied that that was the case.

    Now, I am no longer a PhD student, instead intent on learning that which I am passionate about (which does shift over time). That is not a knock against a PhD or those that have earned one, but for me it was too limiting. My hope is that we can make that shift in k-12 that will allow students to explore passions and learn because of for personal gain and not compliance within a system.

  10. Thanks for a thought-provoking framework. I was interested in your reflection on assessment at the end. It reminded me that someone told me when I was a brand new baby teacher that instruction (the work done by the learner in your writing) and assessment, in an ideal situation, should be pretty indistinguishable from each other. It seems like we often overlook the gap between what the kids learned and what the teacher intends to measure. I wonder if it would be helpful to start teaching the kids a vocabulary for describing what they know and why it matters.

  11. Thanks for these thoughts. I reposted your chart on my classroom blogs for my high school Seniors and asked them to write some comments & thoughts. I look forward to reading their ideas

  12. I thought this was a great post. In particular I liked your break-down of the difference between ‘Students’ and ‘Learners’. I have to agree with you that we as educators have a responsibility in helping to facilitate this shift. It actually excites me to view my students this way. The trick will now be as someone mentioned above getting those kids who aren’t ready to be active participants see the benefit of becoming a life long learner.

  13. What a great chart! It really shows clearly where we are and where we want to be with respect to teaching and learning. Given the current entrenchment in teaching students and all the motivation, compensation, mode of operation and why factors being what is currently “real” and important to kids, parents, and most educators, how can we prioritize this list to work on changing one aspect/perspective at a time? At a gentler pace, the changes might be easier to swallow and longer lasting. Which of these factors do you think must change first to give meaning to changing the others?

  14. I really believe that some teachers blame assessment or gov’t testing as a reason they can’t teach outside the box. Teaching is about learning what is going to help our students achieve success. I love the chart that you attached; I will definitely share it with my colleagues. Maybe sharing this chart with them will help them realize the importance of knowing that students are learners and in order for them to become master learners; they need to apply what they learned.

  15. Excellent post David. Reading this makes me think that as an instructor, I would rather empower learners than teach students. The question then becomes, what cultural changes can be made in the school to ensure that everyone from Administrators to students, understand the importance of empowering learners, and not ‘teaching’ students.

  16. As an administrator caught up in the data/assessment/AYP jungle of NCLB, your chart nailed where we need to be. I am working with my faculty on building their understanding of 21st Century skills, technology integration, and Universal Design for Learning. It is a difficult process for two central reasons – one is related to government testing and the continued restraints from that focus, but the other one is very connected to how we continue to define student and teacher roles and responsibilties. To create civic minded, problem solving, engaged citizens we must re-define the roles of teachers and students, which will begin to transform our learning environments. Your chart is an excellent springboard to begin the conversation.

  17. Asan adminstrator caught up in the NCLB jungle of assessments, data and AYP I applaud this dialogue. I am working with my faculty in understanding and embracing the 21st Century skills framework, technology integration, and the Universal Design for Learning. It is a slow process because of two central issues. The first one is directly related to the continued emphasis on accountability only measured through state testing. The second however is very much related to our beliefs about the roles of teachers and students. Your chart represents a framework from which to begin what I think is a much needed and very healthy discussion if we are going to meet the needs of today’s students.

  18. Thank you for the post, it is once again reminding us of what we (should?) have been told when educating ourselves to start a teaching career. The chart is marvellous, as for some of us it is still difficult to understand that we need to raise people, able to learn and adjust in rapidly changing environment in theory, and the chart is another essential method of delivering information to the others – visualization:)
    Indeed, in a modern school teacher is equal with students, acting like a supervisor but not mentor, gently correcting mistakes and generously applauding to success.

  19. David, I’ve been in administration for almost a year now, and I couldn’t help but read your post from that perspective. I love your idea of the label “master learner.” What happens if we take your same chart and replace the column headers with “Teachers” and “Master Learners” in place of the respective Students and Learners? All of a sudden we see things from an administrator perspective, and I find myself wrestling every day with seeing the teachers I work with as Master Learners while still carrying the responsibility of monitoring and coordinating my program as a whole.

    I said for years while I was still a teacher that I would not be a manager but a leader when I became an administrator. Easier said than done, and I think a large part of that is the exact same perspective shift you are describing for teachers about their students. I wonder if this would work better as a bottom-up transformation (teachers get the shift first and it trickles up into admin), or as a top-down, where administrators change how they see their teachers first.

  20. excellent chart and thinking. i love it. absolutely love it.

    i’m going to encourage that we stick to your premise though David … we are all learners… i think we need fewer teachers – more sophisticated or master learners.
    so the asking which you’d rather “teach”… i’d push – which you’d rather learn along side. i can’t remember a time i didn’t learn along side.

    about those not successful in school, Sir Ken’s the element, Daniel Coyle’s the talent code, both chocked full. Michael Ellsberg is crafting a book now – interviewing drop outs that are extremely successful.

    James Bach is one – so is Noam Kostucki – both of which have helped us come up with some verbiage describing a process of learning how to learn (notice, dream, connect, do)
    we’re calling it detox, and we’re thinking – if this process is practiced with any chosen topic – it will become 2nd nature. and all learners will be set with what we believe is the #1 skill – knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.
    turns out the drop outs don’t really need it.. it’s the ones who are compliant and trainable… the ones that make the grade – that need the most help in learning how to learn.

    Jim Folkestad at CSU and i have been working on this, and now an activity system mapping of master learner vs learner in order to monitor progress/authentic learning.

    i met Jim the day you were in Loveland, CO almost a year ago. (so – blaming most of this on you.) would love to share it with you at some point. i think you will like it.

  21. Hi, I am from Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class and I am posting as part of an assignment. I was just looking at your blog and trying to decide which one to comment on and I came across this one, and I am sure glad I did. This is something that we are educators and future educators should never forget.
    I really liked your chart and the way that you broke it down. I agree that we should always think of our students as learners and ourselves as master learners. Your chart really helped to bring your words to life. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  22. As a literacy coach, one of my greatest challenges is getting teachers to see themselves as learners. To admit that they don’t know it all, or that maybe our understanding of teaching and learning is constantly changing, makes teachers feel vulnerable. My teachers are always asking if this will “show up on my evaluation.” Sounds just like kids asking if this will “be on the test.” Clearly we have all ingrained the learning=grade mentality. I am hoping your awesome chart will help me open up conversations about both teaching and learning. Thanks for always being so thought-provoking!

  23. This is excellently portraying yet another drawback to the educational system.
    As a life coach focusing on developing essential life skills with young adults, I apprecciate the differentiation of learner and student. I believe learners will ultimately succeed in their educational careers and their lives overall.

  24. I spent some time with your “student/learner” chart and shared it with colleagues who have been having a particularly hard time with innovation and change, I think due to, as you write, “a reluctance to trust their students to take advantage of the tools and opportunities for learning… [and]a belief that their students are lazy and will only use these empowerments for shortcuts.” These teachers see students as looking for a quick way out, which is perhaps more reflective of growing up in this digital age than actual laziness. Thanks for putting this chart together so clearly!

  25. check this free software that lets you organize, read and manage all your ebooks. (

    furthermore, it’s really useful for students and teachers alike. it’s learning with technology and as your post emphasizes, allows students to think more creatively and more out-of-the-box.

  26. Coming a bit late to the party, but I think it is safe to say that even if teachers want learners not students (and that’s a big “if”), many don’t know how to teach learners. Saying that you want an intellectually curious learner is one thing but accomodating (and engaging) a gifted student in a gen ed classroom, or any student who wants to go beyond or go deeper when you are confronted with the realities of meeting AYP is quite another, especially in a multi-level class of 35. Many teachers and administrators these days bandy about the catch phrase “differentiation” without knowing what it means at all.

    Individual classrooms can promote learners but they are still responsible for test scores which are now tied to their pay. It is a hard sell in these times. We need an entire overhaul of the mission of public school and a house cleaning of staff that are not on board.

  27. In all the years that I have encountered this movement to demonize the word “student” in favor of the word “learner” I have to understand the point. The table you have provided looks to me to be an outline of your understanding of positive and negative traits in students, not anything about the nature of a student or a learner. They are interchangable words. I, for one, am proud to be both a student and a teacher and see now disrespect or dishonor in referring to those who study as students. “Student” is not a bad word. It really isn’t.

    1. J, thanks for your comment. I see how it appears that I am getting caught up in terminology, and I apologize. It is the images that I wish to distinguish. The tradition view is the student whose role it is to passively follow instructions, pay attention, memorize, and show mastery by answering questions. The learner image is that of a student who is a much more active, self-directed and responsible learner. To be clear, there have always been some active learning in the traditional classroom, and there are times when a more passive stance is required in the “modern” classroom.

      But the reason I think this distinction is important and needs to be made is described masterfully by Diana Laufenberg: in her TEDx talk, How to learn? From mistakes. The purpose of the classrooms I attended in the 1950s and ’60s was to prepare me for the next 35 years of my life. Certainly, I was expected to learn more along the way, but formal education had little to do with that. Today, when things changing so rapidly, schooling should be much (MUCH) more about preparing people to continue to learn, to be learners, to be learning literate.

  28. I find the responses above all interesting on the matter of what makes a learner versus a student. In my opinion, a learner describes how involved a person is with an activity. Think about it, a student can sit there passively and appear to be learning, whereas, on the other hand, a learnwer will actively engage in the activity, thus learning or at least assimilating more of the information. Personally, i pefer the term “learner: over student because I always remind my students that they are responsibile for their own learning. I teach, they absorb and asimilate, and together , we make sense of the information being presented to them.

  29. I just read your post about students v. learners. I think that we have to remember who shapes them into students rather than learners. As teachers, we are so tight on time that we spend most of it trying to get through everything on our list that we sometimes forget to stop and reflect on how our teaching practices affect our “learners.” Who wouldn’t want to encourage the learners in their classroom to investigate and create.

  30. David – I found this article so intriguing! This is exactly where I think our classroom focus needs to go. “Teaching in order to make yourself obsolete” should be what every teacher strives to do in their classroom. Too many of us focus on our pupils as students rather than learners. I thought your chart was an incredible creation on how to explain the difference, and what our endeavor as educators should be – achieving a climate for learners! I’m curious as to what the last few months’ feedback has been on this post. Have you had more colleagues weigh in on the process? How do we get the “powers to be” at the state and federal level to assist us in changing the climate of our schools?

  31. Being a special education teacher, I have found that my students need very much to be learners not students. They need to learn skills to be life long learners. They need to be collaborators and work with other students. They need to “own” their own work and value what they have learned to build a sense of accomplishment. I really love the phrase,” learn in order to achieve, rather than achieving learning.” Learners need to be curious and assessment needs to be measured by creative examples and discovery of what abilities students have and not on what abilities students don’t have.

  32. Hi David,

    I found this article full of interesting questions. We all know that the answer to create learners is their environment. Because it is the environment that will lead a student to gain enough maturity to understand how to behave as a learner. Of course ‘master learner’ are important part of the environment, but to make a difference in the field of education, family environment and life experiences of the student are important to become a learner. Understanding the difference between the need of results and the personal accomplishment is an important step that can only be created by a favorable educational environment. One of the most favorable environment i found is at


  33. This post is very interesting and does in fact raise a myriad of questions. I very much enjoyed reading it and all of the previous responses. Thanks for posting such intriguing material.

  34. I believe that what decides whether a classroom contains students or learners is dependant on the expectations of the teacher. A teacher is the leader of the classroom, and therefore sets the expectations of their students. If a teacher believes that their students are learners, and treats them as such they will be more inclined to become learners over students.

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  38. I loved this blog because I think that making this distinction between learner and student is the key to reforming education. If teachers are able to accept and understand this, it can introduce new, innovative ways into the education system, one in particularly, is technology. Students want to learn, it is part of human nature to seek answers to questions. There are so many new tools and resources available to students that traditional method of teaching seems like it could hinder knowledge rather than encourage it. Students should be allowed to explore and find answers on their own; it will help the information stick better if the child is not forced to learn it. This is not to abandon traditional methods completely, but only to amplify them into new-age thinking.
    The quote, “I decided to break things up a bit — and model an element of one of my ongoing messages, teaching in order to make yourself obsolete” really stood out to me because I believe this coincides perfectly with the overall message of the blog. The teacher is not in the classroom as the one and only resource for information for students; there are a million ways to learn and the teacher should act as a guide to information instead of a strict instructor on knowledge. Teachers should encourage students to learn on their own and make mistakes so that they can find ways to solve problems and obtain knowledge on their own.
    At the end of the blog, you discuss the importance of assessment and the differences between students and learners in this area. This last paragraph concluded the message perfectly. When dealing with students, both the student and the teacher strive for a grade. The teacher wants to make sure the student knows the information he or she presented at the time of the test. The student wants to memorize, even if temporary, the information so that he or she does well on the test. This kind of relationships is summed up by the final assessment on the information. When it comes to the relationship between learners and “master learners” the process is about exploring and discovering an answer as opposed to being told it. Learners will feel less compelled to know things but more curious to find answers. This relationship is ideal for a creative, collaborative, and cooperative learning environment.

  39. Amen. As a retired military officer and now retired teacher/tech coordinator I couldn’t agree now. Since I retired the second time I have had the opportunity to substitute/guest lecture a couple of times. The ‘students’ do want to learn. On one occasion I was a guest in a 20th Century US History class that was discussing the 50’s. Since I was a college student/new AF Officer during that time frame I opened the floor to questions. The kids didnt want to leave and asked me if I could come back the next day. I then checked the web and found so many movies/interactive info about that era that I could have filled a two week session easily. The stuff is there, the kids are interested – the teachers just have to lead them.
    Last point-the last objective test I took was in 1953, all people cared about was wether or not I could do the job and apply the knowledge or info I had at hand.

  40. That was a great article ! Students vs learners. I agree with the idea that forcing hundreds of adults to focus on one presentation for six hours. It often comes up during professional development that the strategies used for PD are not in line with effective teaching strategies. Teaching and learning are one in the same. Jeremy

  41. I really love this thinking. This is something that really needs to be done. If we are to make the biggest impact on teachers and students we need to take over this type of attitude an thinking. Being more positive is huge. This is some very good stuff. Thanks you so much.

  42. One of your commentators writes with passion on the subject of Learners v Students.
    ‘Exceptions, of course, are schools that have been given permission to reinvent schooling. But who, among the powers that be, are paying attention to them?
    I don’t know. Do we need to get louder?’
    Well, you know that generally you are only being heard among yourselves anyway. Non teachers are not hearing the message and are not even paying attention to the conversation.
    It’s a pity but I think you have to face the facts and move on.

  43. Now, I am no longer a PhD student, instead intent on learning that which I am passionate about (which does shift over time). That is not a knock against a PhD or those that have earned one, but for me it was too limiting.

  44. Though all of life I have had one way of being taught; I never enjoyed it. I never knew what kind of student I was. The teachers always said I asked too many questions. After reading all of I realized I’m and always have been a learner. I always thought there were more than one side of learning or even every answer. Now more than ever I understand who I truely am and feel more comfortable knowing I wasn’t out of place in school it was just the teachers didn’t know how to teach a learner just a student

  45. Wow! I love the descriptors that you use in making the comparisons. I will definitely make use of your blog in the next Professional Development session at my campus. One of the many roadblocks that I witness is, that as teachers we, fear letting go. Shifting the responsibility for learning to the learner requires the ‘Master Learner’ to facilitate versus to controlling the learning. That is a task that will require patience and persistence.

  46. The table showing differences between students and learners, appears to me to address attitudes and beliefs of the TEACHERS, and has nothing to do with our CHILDREN, who have no agenda or bias in their schooling.
    I am sure you have heard this before, but the student/learner labels ring my moral B-S bell very loudly, and in my humble opinion are nothing more than the attempts of political commissars to indoctrinate society according to a set scheme that must be explained. This renders it invalid, and reprehensible in the sphere of our education system.

    1. @DismayedParent, Thanks for your comment and for the oppotunity to further “explain.” In a world that enjoyed the perception of a certain/predictable future, a student agenda was irrelevant. However, in a world that is changing faster than we can effectively respond too, then our children (especially in the mid to upper grades) not only deserve to play a more active part in their learning, but an effectively adaptive education requires it. “What was good enough for your grandmother is NOT good enough for your children!”

      You accuse this writing to be the “attitudes and beliefs of the TEACHERS.” Well, sure! Teachers, it seems we have forgotten, are the professionals. More than half of them have earned graduate degrees (

      Your second paragraph tosses labels that you do not clearly describe, so it is difficult for me to respond. I will say that we (progressive thinking educators) are resisting immoral and politically motivated efforts toward modes of education that insure compliant students, when a rapidly changing and globalizing world requires graduates who are innovative, critical thinkers who are resourceful and relentless learners.

      Thanks again!

  47. Successful learners is the way to push our “students” to becoming competitive out of high school. I really liked the layout of students or learners. As an educator leader I feel it is my responsibility to allow them to become active in their own education- if we want our public education to be first rate then as teachers we must reflect on our own actions.


  49. I find this a fascinating thought. How interesting would it be to be able to begin this method of teaching in a kindergartner? To have him or her so curious about the world around them (as they were even a year earlier) that they sought answers themselves? As you mentioned in another post about a teacher from Raleigh who no longer felt the joy of teaching because of the hardships, paperwork, and testing that constantly seem to multiply, I get frustrated as well with “the system.” It doesn’t work, so why do we continue to use it? Are we so afraid of change that we have forgotten to place the student and our desire for them to become lifelong learners first?

  50. It is ironic reading this blog. We quite often refer to the young children who enter the classroom as students. However, reading the blog in relations to 21st Century Classroom, students really should be referred to as learners.
    At present, educators are teaching students to think critically, and to be self taught while the educator is the facilitator, Even more, educators are differentiating instruction which causes the learning to become more student centered and done collaboratively among peers.
    I currently teach kindergarten and I teaching and modeling with them how to become life-long learners.

  51. As a teacher of a course with heavy accountabilty attached to it, I often feel pressured to conform to the ‘They are students’ mentality. However, I truly wish for my classroom, and indeed my school, to fully embrace the ‘They are learners’ position.

    With the power of learning in the children’s hands and the teacher/administrator/system along as a guide, true growth is the inevitable result. It seems that if a teacher were able to construct authentic learning opportunities around a specifically designed set of standards, both the opportunity for true learning and the growth needed for assessment accountability would be met.

    Moreover, the culture and climate of the school, system, and community would be positively impacted due to the empowerment byproduct and personal ownership of success. Thank you for this enlightening avenue into learning!

  52. I want to thank you for this illuminating chart and a new way (for me at least) to look at the little people that populate my classroom. I think that very often in today’s schools, we teachers view them as “students” rather than “learners.” I know I have. This post has awakened me; it is clear to me that it is beneficial to all to understand them and treat them as “learners.”

    I also think this same concept can be extended to the whole school hierarchy; I have had principals and other administrators who have viewed the faculty as “students” (i.e. employees) rather than “learners” (i.e. collaborators). I think schools are communities and they all function better and benefit their members more if everyone is given the respect of being treated as a “learner.”

  53. I want to thank you for this illuminating chart and a new way (for me
    at least) to look at the little people that populate my classroom. I
    think that very often in today’s schools, we teachers view them as
    “students” rather than “learners.” I know I have. This post has
    awakened me; it is clear to me that it is beneficial to all to
    understand them and treat them as “learners.”

    I also think this same concept can be extended to the whole school
    hierarchy; I have had principals and other administrators who have
    viewed the faculty as “students” (i.e. employees) rather than “learners”
    (i.e. collaborators). I think schools are communities and they all
    function better and benefit their members more if everyone is given the
    respect of being treated as a “learner.”

  54. That is an amazingly done chart. Its very important for teachers as well as students to understand the difference between just students and learners. You must always strive to be a learner and not just a student.If we are to make the biggest impact on teachers and students we need to take over this type of attitude an thinking. Being more positive is huge. This is some very good stuff. Thanks you so much. You can also use collaborative environements like

  55. Research has shown that the quality of teaching and learning is improved
    when students are active learners and are provided with opportunities to
    clarify, question, apply, and consolidate new knowledge. In order to achieve
    this, teachers provide opportunities for students to engage new material, while
    serving as guides to help them understand and apply information. They help
    “light the lamp” of student learning.

    Students and their learning needs are at the center of active learning.
    There are any number of teaching strategies that can be employed to actively
    engage students in the learning process, including group discussions, problem
    solving, case studies, role plays, journal writing, and structured learning
    groups. The benefits to using such activities are many. They include improved
    critical thinking skills, increased retention and transfer of new information,
    increased motivation, and improved interpersonal skills.

    1. Shauna, I couldn’t agree with you more. When kids stop memorizing the information and learn how to use the information they remember it. I teach technology education and many times in my class a student will finally “get” a concept from a math class. Something as simple as fraction suddenly makes sense when you apply it to a ruler. (We are talking high school kids). They understand it when it is being used instead of memorized.

  56. As a technology teacher I spend majority of my days sitting in the “back of the room”. So many times I have sat in meetings with other teachers and they are shocked at how well certain students perform in my room. The same student is found sleeping in other classrooms. I know I am lucky to teach an elective class which is half the battle for these students. They actually chose my class which means they have an interest in it already. I like to think I don’t teach my students what to think, but instead how to think and where to find the information they need for a problem in class. My students are very independent and this leads to their success in my room. They are constantly engaged.

  57. Teacher leaders have a lot to give and a lot to gain. The phrase you stated in the article “master learners” for teachers is so essential of the definition for teacher leadership in our century because schools develop cultures that promote and celebrate continuous learning for students only when teachers join the community of lifelong learners. In order to create communities of learners, teachers should model it first in class, then expect pupils to follow their teachers` path.Many researches show that there is a powerful relationship between learning and leading. If a teacher is not a lifelong learner, kids soon recognize that the message is ” do as we say, not as we do.”

  58. The table showing the difference between learner and student is most interesting. When students become learners there us definitely a change in attitude and they do become collaborators with their teachers in digging up for information of the subject being taught. I witnessed this phenomenon occurring before me eyes in the classroom

  59. I find the table to be a very enlightening depiction of how we as educators do in fact view the student and how in this changing time of Common Core State Standards, educators HAVE to begin to view the students more as how the table describes them as..LEARNERS. As I read the table I could see myself in my interactions with the students in my school as that of the STUDENT and rarely has the LEARNER. But, as I reflect on those same interactions, I wondered, if I had interacted with them more regularly as LEARNERS would we (student/teacher) have accomplished more during our day? Would they (students) have become a master learner in not only their daily interactions with educators, but also with the community in General? I agree, in order for students to become Master Learners, we as Educators, Parents, and Community Leaders have to be Master Learners first.

    Thank you….

  60. I love your comparison between students and learners. In my school district we are in the midst of transitioning our thinking and teaching practices to better serve our learners. I find its almost more difficult for the older ‘students’ to change their thinking then it is for the teachers. Once accomplished the learners seem to thrive.
    It has taken a great deal of effort to change my practice, but gets easier each day. I agree that teachers should be master learners. I am currently working on my masters in teacher leadership, and am finding it much easier to adapt and evolve as I myself become more educated.

    What I’ve found is that the unknown is scary, especially when we can’t seem to find the time to investigate it ourselves. ‘Master learners’ or teacher leaders need to speak up and pave the way for those that are scared, just as you are doing. Thanks for the great comparison chart; I will be sharing this information with my department!

    1. Killeen,
      I agree with you,
      this is scary. I am working to be a teacher leader and to help guide other teachers to this new way of thinking. Getting someone to reinvent him or herself and to take a new perspective on something that they have been doing for decades is a huge challenge. How do we show teachers the benefits of this? I have tried to demonstrate and lead by example on this issue. I encourage my students to lead discussions to find questions to answers and to think for themselves. I just feel like I am being fought in every direction. I have teachers who don’t understand why they need to change what they have been doing for so long when it has worked in the past and how I am supposed to guide individual students to be successful when we are standardizing everything within the classroom. What happened to the fun in the room?

      1. Hi Britni,
        It takes a long time and can be very frustrating. I have a few good friends that teach in my building that share the same challenges. It helps to have a support system in place where I can share concerns, or seek advice. It’s also nice to know you’re not alone! Keep modeling for those other teachers, it will pay of in the long run!

  61. I think that the chart shows a major contrast and problem within today’s educational society. The word educator or teacher as we know it is being changed and redefined in order to match the 21 century skills. The perception that the teacher must take on and the new ideas and strategies that they are expected to place into their classrooms are being taught and implemented by school boards and professional developments. What educators are not being taught about or an issue that is not relevant in this debate is students verse learners.

    When I was in school, I had a craving to learn, a willingness to know more about certain topics and I wanted to explore. I was a learner. The students that I have today and that I work with on a daily basis have lost their interest and foresight on learning knew things. They just want to know what is expected of them in order to pass the class. This tells educators that they system is failing. No wonder we are losing teachers at such a fast rate, and that high school drop out rates and online school rates are on the incline. The goal of education is to get through it and hopefully be successful, which is defined by a series of letters that make up your GPA. The goal is not longer to explore, to learn, to take value in their work and to self-teach new ideas and take risks within the educational learning environment.

    So, what needs to be done? How do educators inspire students to be learners? I feel that that is the issue at hand and that is what needs to be solved. We can test these children until their eyes are blue, but that is not going to prove that they are learners, it just proves that they are students doing what is required of them to move on to the next step of their lives. As educators we need to adopt new and inventive ways to inspire the creationism and exploration within these children.

  62. Vanessa,
    I agree with you completely here. As teachers, we need to take responsibility for our students futures. We have to encourage them to take their learning into their own hands and the importance of putting your name on something. Students have lost their willingness to try and think outside of a bod, because their tests that they have to pass don’t allow for them to be creative and innovative. I feel like the world of teaching is changing and that the 21 century skills are taking education into a magnificent life of change, but in order to truly be successful we must train learners not students.

  63. Thank you for sharing. I like the chart, I thought this was a great post. I liked your break-down of the difference between ‘Students’ and ‘Learners’. I have to agree with you that we as educators have a responsibility in helping to facilitate this shift. It actually excites me to view my students this
    way. The trick will now be as someone mentioned above getting those
    kids who aren’t ready to be active participants see the benefit of
    becoming a life long learner.

  64. This article resonated with me in a number of ways. We do share as teachers the large obstacle of retooling classrooms when faced with government testing. This obstacle does not seem to be one that it going to disappear. Therefore, we need to face this obstacle with our eyes wide open, but possibly with a different approach. Maybe we are focusing on the negative connotations over testing rather than how we can prepare our students and help them to critically think. Sometimes it helps to view the issue with a different sense.
    I agreed with idea of distinguishing students and master learners. As students take a vested interest in their learning, the concepts we are teaching become imbedded deeply into their minds and hearts. Students collaborating leads to real-life scenarios that engage them as a team player rather than a competitor. Critical thinking can become a part of everyday life within the classroom. Equipping learners means that we are facilitating discussions and teaching students to think for themselves. Problem solving is a part of life and therefore needs to be practiced within the classroom. Instead of a right or wrong answer, students need to be encouraged to ask if something worked. This process leads to experimentation and exploration. Students can become better equipped to meet 21st century expectations as we change the definition of our students to master learners.

    1. Leslie,
      your post speaks volumes. In order to prepare students for the future we must be a part of the solution instead of dwelling on what we can’t change. Preparing student for the 21st century is essential in ensuring that they will be prepared to become productive citizens in our country.

  65. That a great post, especially the chart of distinguishes between these notions of students and learners. I totally agree with those typical barriers to retooling classrooms, including, but not limited to government testing. In China, we always say our education system must change to cancel the testing of the college entrance examination system, but it barriers by our government. This obstacle does not seem to be one that it is going to disappear. This decision cannot come to true for a long time.

  66. Thank you so much for the wonderful post, David! I agree with so much of what you have shared. Particularly the need for teachers to reestablish our perceptions of the students, or more accurately, learners that we work with. True, when we look at our classes today, some students are naturally engaged and motivated learners, while many of them could fall into your ‘students’ category. As I read your work, I wondered how many of these students’ classroom attitudes and behaviors exist because children have
    risen, or lowered as the case may be, to the level of their teacher’s
    expectations? That is to say, perhaps our students are performing as “employees expected to obediently follow instructions” because we’ve taught them that this is how they should behave in school. I am so grateful to you for your thought provoking words, they have certainly sparked reflection of my perceptions of my students!

  67. Wow! I love the chart. In a utopia society all schools would be operating like this. Many teachers try to impart some thinking into their students to get these type of reactions from them. We are simply trying to get them to invest into their future. Learning is not about memorizing facts and details for tests but to use reasoning and thought behind the decisions that have been made and why they were made. Many parents are too consumed with the numerical grade value more so than their child understanding why he or she made the grade.

  68. This piece is simply mind blowing. I am sincerely asking myself if children in my class are learners or students. The chart simply made it clearer. Our perceptions as teachers as regards what we consider ourselves to be will change ‘everything’: relationship with children, instructional plans and approaches to teaching and learning. This piece has got me thinking

  69. The table presents some interesting points and the that we as teachers would like for our classrooms to reflect. But, the prevalent thinking in high schools today and in K-12 schools in general is an assessment driven criteria designed to assess students and teachers. Without these assessments the public would not be able to look at data and assess the worth of our schools. We make getting into college competitive, grades are competitive as we look at class ranks, schools are competitive as we compare test scores and we want to make teacher pay and retainment competitve based upon test scores. In a culture driven by assessment scores how are we going to make the switch to this learner based model? When schools are run by school boards who are made of elected officials who are public members, having no education training, how are we going to make this move to a learner based model?

  70. Hello David,

    I particularly liked the idea of becoming ‘obsolete’; our vanity still blinds us to the fact that we are no longer ‘Mr. knows it all’. What’s worse is that we expect to be able to do, and rarely question the legitimacy of, what you called ‘the cruel thing’: “forcing a group of (students) to spend six-hours paying attention to one person”. Students nowadays are interested in so many things that lie outside the classroom, sources of information are unprecedentedly innumerable, and teachers are no longer the sole source of information or the students’ idols in many cases –unfortunately though.

    Nevertheless, we still expect that learning is going to happen smoothly and simultaneously; what really takes place under these conditions, though, is schooling and not learning. “Schooling is a compulsory experience in which students are expected to acquire the knowledge and skills of the required curriculum”(Kottler, Zehm & Kottler, 2005). Schooling is different than learning which is defined by Kottler et al. as “an inside-out process, in which students construct an understanding of themselves, their beliefs and values, and the world in which they live”.

    Thus, to wisely face all the previously mentioned limitations or challenges, one key is to model being a lifelong learner in the classroom. Not being the only source of information, the teacher is to facilitate the access to information and not hand it in to the students. The teacher’s challenge also lies in being able to dexterously ignite the enthusiasm of the otherwise uninterested students, or to find a relationship between what students are learning and what really lies in their interest zone. Linking knowledge to real life applications gives meaning to the students’ mere presence in the classroom. Unfortunately, though, “a good deal of the typical curriculum does not [nowadays] connect—not to practical applications, personal insights, or much of anything. It’s not the kind of knowledge that would connect, nor is it taught in a way that would help learners make connections. (Dewey, 1916, p. 24)


    Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy in education. New York: Macmillan.

    Kottler, J. A., Zehm, S. J., & Kottler, E. (2005). On being a teacher: The human dimension. Corwin Press.

  71. Interesting perspective. Based on dictionary definitions for “student” and “learner” (and this is coming from the perspective of a lowly copyeditor, not an ID) I’m having a bit of trouble with embracing some of your ideas; the table you present seems to paint students as unwilling victims of a dystopian culture, where only “learners” are actually motivated by discovery. I am being asked to adapt to this mindset, which is difficult for me. You could actually help with this if you could evidence your ideas by pointing to some peer-reviewed articles or studies that support your premises. Thank you.

  72. I too agree with David Warlick and your addition of opinion. Students should be continually learning in a multitude of ways. Academically, socially, and emotionally, the students should be learning through a variety of tasks and situations. For students to build upon what they know and take their experiences with them into their next learning opportunity. Teaching and setting students up with the ability to be intrinsically motivated by their learning can provide support for challenging learning tasks in the future and to embrace higher level thinking.

  73. The concept of a learner versus a student is very profound. Looking at the origin of the word student, which means painstaking application as well as sharing similarities to disciple/discipline implies that one can only become a student once they become committed to learning and applying a particular discipline. If we want students, we must first produce learners. In this age of information, learning must be a lifelong discipline.

  74. This was a very interesting read. When I think about “retooling” my classroom to move my “clients” from students to learners I think about brain based learning. Brain based learning is where you give your students, or better yet, learners; the means to discover their own learning. Instead of spoon feeding information to your learners you present them with a question or a puzzle in which they are to seek out the answer to. This answer can be sought in any way that comes naturally to the learner and can also be sought either individually or in a partnership or group. When answers are found they are presented to the whole class and they are both discussed and defended. The teacher is merely the facilitator or the guide. Ideas are internalized and not forgotten after a test or quiz; they are applied in the real world. The learning is earned and not just regurgitated; therefore inspiring a lifelong love of learning.

    1. I like your comments on brain based learning. It sounds like something I would like to try in my third grade class. I have a higher group of thinkers this year, who are very inquisitive. Posing questions and letting them solve them sounds interesting.

  75. As an educator I understand a teacher is to help a student become a lifelong learner and the chart present some interest points. The way a teacher sees a student is a totally different way than that student sees their self. We as educator have to help build a child confidence if we want a child to be a learner and not a student. To get a student to invest in their learning and to be a better thinker a teacher must help instill different ways of thinking. We most show a child how to think out of the box rather than just telling that student. This will help a students to build upon what they know and take their experiences with them into their next learning opportunity.
    Reading this post today after work made me ask myself are all my students, students or learners and if not, what I need to do to change their thinking.

  76. As a third grade teacher, in my 20th year of teaching, I appreciate your insight and information. Seeing the children who come into our classrooms as learners, instead of students, sheds a new light on education. When a learner in my classroom has an idea or suggestion (within reason), I like to try it out to show them that I respect their thinking. As the school where I teach has become involved in the Leader in Me Program in the past two years, I have been able to hand more leadership over to 3rd graders. Yes! 8, 9 and 10 year olds! They really are smarter and more ingenious than given credit for. I enjoy seeing things from their perspective. It helps me understand them better and help them become better learners. I enjoy the aspect of learners also because students don’t each have to fit in the “box” called school. Every child does not fit the mold. Each learner deserves a teacher who will see their qualities and what they can offer to the group of learners. As far as assessment is concerned, being able to take what they have learned and put it into practice, is of great importance. With our state assessment asking 3rd graders to compare selections and write multiple paragraph essays, teaching more broadly is more effective. What I mean is some learners will be able to write one or two paragraphs to meet the standard, but others will be possible to push to 4 or 5. I am enjoying seeing each of my students as learners, and excited at every bit of growth I witness.

    1. I admire the Leader in Me Program your school employs to respect and grow your learners. As teachers, we model learning by learning ourselves. To build on that, we should also model leadership for our learners. As they learn, they can also help each other learn and build knowledge. This is especially important when learners are working in teams or groups, leading each other in the building on knowledge. We do not have classrooms full of students; we have classrooms full of learners and leaders. Just imagine the impact on learning when the culture of the school is based on this!

  77. I really enjoyed reading this post. As an elementary school teacher of 15 years and beginning a new journey into teacher leadership, I am already aware of the importance of being a teacher and a learner. Teachers are learners; they must keep themselves informed and knowledgeable of all the policies, practices, resources, standards, curriculum, instructional strategies, and assessments that affect teaching in general and in their area of instruction/subject matter. The children who step into our classroom should also be viewed, acknowledged, and respected as learners. We tell them that they come to school to learn; we teach them so they can learn. We have high expectations of them to encourage life-long learning. As a lead learner in my school, I can use this redefinition to compel teachers to analyze and reflect on how they view their children in the classroom. The opening question could be, “what is your classroom full of?”. I can already say that most teachers will say students. Promoting this new mindset of thinking can change teachers’ perspectives of how they engage their learners. I absolutely love the definition of assessment for learners. This definition causes analysis of the quality of instruction delivered in the classroom and the materials/resources used to enhance deliverance of the instruction and acquisition of knowledge. My principal will give a strong shout-out of agreement for this!

  78. Thank you for this post. I am in the midst of my course work for my masters degree in teacher leadership and I found it totally fascinating how you took the student, changed them to learners, and created something so insightful. I find that changing the way we view our students really does change our style within the classroom. What are we trying to accomplish? It took me several years to learn that you can not possibly teach students if you don’t know anything about them and how they best learn. Thanks for adding this twist!

  79. I am not sure that measuring what has been learned is a bad idea. Why can’t we as teachers do both measuring what they learned and what they can do with learning. Shouldn’t we be sharing knowledge with the students so they learn to use their knowledge to solve problems.

  80. I have been a middle school teacher for 14 years, love what I do, but things have changed dramatically in that short time. Our goal as educators is to create in our student’s, a notion of the importance of life-long learning. Through in-service days, professional development opportunities such as conferences or continuing education programs, I feel teachers are trying to remain on the fore-front of their content area.

    I really enjoy conversations about how to view the term students and learners. I recently took a continuing education class that focused on creating a flipped classroom. The premise behind it is what interested me into beginning the process of generating and utilizing one in my classes. The idea is that the students are in control of their learning. In my case, they log onto the Google Classroom and watch an instructional video or read relevant articles that are posted for their use. They then participate in an online discussion with the class and reflect on the content presented. During class time is when the students are engaged in various problem-based learning activities. This enables me to interact with my students in a more personal way. By utilizing this time, I would be able to guide and or clarify any information as they apply their knowledge in a real-world setting. This is a great opportunity for educators like myself to utilize differentiation by posting worksheets that are tiered at different levels for my students. When they are in class it provides more opportunity to incorporate the many various methods of differentiation.

    I think many educators feel as the article states, that students will not use the resources presented to them and apply that to create a genuine learning experience. I have seen that when I give my students autonomy over their learning and combine it with specific feedback and authentic assessment, for the most part, they work very hard at the task at hand. Assessment is a very useful instrument to use in various forms. Recently, I have looked at assessment in a new way and have utilized it as a tool to adjust my teaching by changing the pacing of a lesson or the way that the content is delivered.

  81. When I was a student-teacher back in 2001, I was taught never to “teach to the test.” Strangely now, in 2018, it seems our schools are still geared toward this fallacy. My current school is preparing our students for the PARCC assessments. PARCC was designed, to my understanding, to make sure students are “college and career ready.” I may be in the minority, but as a high school teacher of almost 15 years I am more concerned about my students getting all of the knowledge they need at the high school level than with how my students perform on a myriad of standardized tests. Specifically from a math teacher’s perspective, I feel high school teachers need to practice more deep teaching, rather than simply touching on important topics from Algebra and Geometry often rushed through by teachers simply to keep up with the curriculum. High school students can worry about upper-level math classes, such as Calculus and Statistics, when and only if they need to study them. If our students instead honed their study toward Algebra and Geometry (perhaps a little Trigonometry), they will not only perform better on exams, but will be able to grasp the skills needed in both upper-level math classes as well as college in general.

  82. In South Africa, the definition changed as per department of education and teachers were then required to call students learners. This got a bit confusing at the time but we realized the reason for this made a lot of sense.

  83. It is quite intriguing these days how much we expect our youth to become the next Bill Gate, Mark Zuckerberg when all we do as educators is take and train them as students rather than learners. When educators put too much emphasis on assessments rather than learning, then our youth become students whose main aim and focus is to pass exams. Youth in this century need skills that will allow them to function in a face-to-face and digital environment. According to Ackerman, & Mackenzie (2007, p.13) ”schools develop cultures that promote and celebrate continuous learning for the students only when teachers join the community of lifelong learners. To create communities of learners, teachers must model for students the most important enterprise of the schoolhouse – learning.
    Ackerman, R., & Mackenzie, S. (2007). Uncovering teacher leadership: Essays and voices from
    the field. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

  84. I really enjoyed this perspective. I can agree with nearly everything because things cannot stay the way they are now. I can tell you for an absolute fact that our schools, including our institutions of higher education, are NOT preparing the learner for a successful future. I spent several years running a business and working in sales and marketing for a fortune 500 company. As I associated with many other managers, executives, community leaders and business owners, I can let you know for certainty, the individuals they are looking for are a rare commodity. These individuals are begging for the young generation to have a strong work ethic and the ability to be problem solvers. It is clear to me that teaching to a test and having such a rigid curriculum is not yielding what our society needs to thrive. I do like many of the assignments that challenge learners to be problem solvers. The main issue I see is that most of the assignments have a social issue that is being investigated rather than looking at impacting societal and economic trends. What it comes down to is, businesses and organizations are focused on results and progress. I worked with an extremely diverse population of successful individuals in Columbus, Ohio and very few of them ever concern themselves with an individual’s gender, race, religion and so on. There are always a few bad apples everywhere, but the overwhelming majority simple want to work with individuals who are going leverage the time and resources of their organization. It is really as simple as that. They are NOT looking for excuse makers or highly self-absorbed individuals that continually evaluate their possibilities of being offended. The sooner schools have highly challenging tasks, projects and inquiries that truly stretch the individual learner, the more likely we will partner with our young learners to give them the best shot at future success, however they define it.

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