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EDUCATION is much more than the acquisition of knowledge and skills.

Throughout the world there is an undue reliance on remotely specified learning outcomes (knowledge and skills) without knowing the students.  Learning outcomes are of critical importance but this almost exclusive focus is frequently counter productive. Reality is local and complex.

Sadly this reliance arises in part from a QA (quality assurance) approach. And is based on false assumptions. The relatively consistent properties of physical things cannot be extrapolated to human beings. There are limits on what education can draw from physics and engineering.


Specifying outcomes and methods without regard to the actual current local & personal reality, including the participating students often requires 

  • teachers to teach what (many) students already know
  • teachers to teach what (many) students are not ready to learn
  • teachers to report on 'learning outcomes' that have not come out of the teaching and learning that have been undertaken
  • (many) mismatches between the learning tasks and timelines available to both teacher and student
  • (many) students to learn things that are meaningless
  • unhelpful limitations on the contributions of others


While many students are successful  in spite of this approach many fall by the wayside and they and their teachers & schools are usually blamed for their failure. Consider an alternative approach that directly involves both teachers and students.


One is reminded of the well known quote - 

"Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person how to fish and you feed them for a lifetime."

To paraphrase this, one might say - 

"Give a person specific skills and knowledge and you equip them for the matching situation.  Teach a person how to think and learn and you equip them for a lifetime"

Learning does involve the acquisition of knowledge and skills. 


At a higher level, LEARNING simultaneously involves 

  • acquiring / achieving new knowledge and skills, and
  • improving the personal systems of the learner.  


In this sense there are 4 personal systems with which each of us makes sense of, and responds to, the world, viz,

  1. Thinking is about 
    • achieving concepts, 
    • taking in 'data' and 
    • elevating knowledge to high orders of knowledge
  2. Learning is about 
    • organising knowledge in meaning ways
    • acquiring skills based on knowledge
    • retaining knowledge & skills
    • making existing knowledge and skills readily available to the learner
  3. Doing is about 
    • identifying the purposes (goals), ways (processes) and acquiring the required means (resources) 
    • undertaking the steps necessary to achieve the purposes
  4. Relating 
    • appreciating the implications of one's actions for oneself, others and things
    • acting in ways that are cooperative and collaborative when appropriate
    • achieving the support, cooperation  and collaboration of others
    • exercising appropriate 
      • care (no harm to self, others or property)
      • consideration (no disruption to the activities of others)
      • courtesy (no offence to others)

Thus TEACHERS have to negotiate the plethora of demands made by governments and the education systems, schools and communities in which they work.  In addition to this they need to

  • establish rapport with their students
  • achieve a sense of common purposes with their students on which to build the working relationships involved
  • attend to the requirements of courses ... and
  • utilise all their professional skill to mediate the learning of the students with whom they work.

See also
Thinking * Learning * Mediated Learning * Learning Process * Independent Learning