Friday, September 25, 2015

The "HOW" Versus the "WHAT"

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
I want to comment on the distinction between "HOW KIDS LEARN" and "WHAT KIDS LEARN". The Learning in Afterschool & Summer (LIAS) learning principles are focused on how kids learn. They are based on recent research, combining brain research, the new science of learning, and what we know from practice.

The "how" is separate from "what": the "how" is absent of any content. Different programs and adults think that young people should acquire certain skills - this is "what". The "what" could be STEM, social emotional learning, character building, workforce readiness, or academic proficiency. The "how" is about how best to shape the strategies and activities to promote learning - regardless of what content or skills we are seeking to teach. The difference may be subtle and confusing to some, but it is fundamental to teaching and learning. 

Below are some quotes that may be helpful: 

  • "I think that the learning principles in after school and summer really get at the core of learning for students really starting in early childhood, going through to university." - Deborah Vandell, Department of Education, UCI
  • “The LIAS principles are all critical. These principles reflect what our own field experience and research suggest about the characteristics of effective learning environments." - Karen Pittman, Forum For Youth Investment 
  • “When you think about what it means to create an environment where a child is excited, supported, and ultimately takes ownership of their learning, LIAS hits the nail on the head. The principles resonate across communities of practice and in our fragmented policy context." - Samantha Tran, Children NOW


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