Comment on Understanding and learning outcomes by Cindy Underhill

“when we’re forbidden to use “mushy” words like “understand” and “appreciate” because “they can’t be measured” that the trouble begins.”

Trouble indeed. I learned how to write behavioral learning objectives as a special educator years ago. I became very good at analyzing every task into its component parts and documenting every action that could perhaps indicate that some learning had occurred. This sort of measurement (I was told) was important for parents who were looking for a tiny shred of evidence that all was not lost for their children – many of whom had suffered traumatic brain injury through illness or injury. And then I had my moment worth crying about – in the words of Michael Wesch. A four year old boy without the ability to walk, talk or see showed me what learning really meant – for him. It happened one day when I began to play my guitar for him. He smiled and rose his arms up in the air – he was full of joy. From then on, when I played a chord and waited, he responded with arms up high and a smile – we were communicating with one another! Let’s do this! I want to hear more! He said it all with his eyes, his smile and his outstretched arms. So the realms of pages with well crafted learning objectives written out and hours of therapy aimed at encouraging the most basic communication related to the “activities of daily living” and finally he had found his motivation. Years later, as a college teacher of “would be” special educators my “learning” objectives were (to my dept. head’s dismay) about building empathy and appreciation – the immeasurable learning that can only come from connection and self reflection. Now as a learning resource designer, I understand that a thoughtfully “drafted” learning objective may have a place in learning environments that require the demonstration of applied skills, but it seems to me that approach should (at the very least) involve consideration of what is gained and lost in the process.

You have inspired so much thinking for me (related to this theme). I am soon to be curating/facilitating a session for new UBC faculty at our annual Summer Institute which I am calling Beyond Bloom’s: Considering Immeasurable Learning. I plan to bring in some quotes from this post as well as a clip or two from your video (as posted here). Wisdom as a learning outcome – something to aspire to!
Thank you!

Comment on From Open To Connected by Maha Bali

I cannot express how your post made me feel. You’ve written so eloquently and yet so simply, and I love how you go from open to opening, from free to freeing, unpacking with simplicity what these words are supposed to mean but are often NOT used as such in the discourse.
What resonated with me most is this: that this paradigm (while not perfect) resonates with the reason you became a professor. It helped me realize, too, why the paradigm resonates with me; it’s the reason I became an educator. It’s the kind of education I value. Looking forward to learning with you and about you as well :)