Focus On: TEDx Talk by Diana Laufenberg: How to learn? From mistakes

Diana Laufenberg, in her TEDx Talk “How to Learn? From mistakes” asks a   powerful question, which I will paraphrase:

If our grandparents and parents went to school to get information that only existed in the school and in the teacher’s head, which Laufenberg describes as a time of “information scarcity”, then why do students have to come to school today in an age of information surplus and free unfettered access any time one wants it?

She then goes to ask (again paraphrased):

What can learning look like when let go of the idea that students are coming to school simply to get information but instead ask students what they can do with that information?

These questions resonate with me deeply; during a yearlong series of PD sessions I attended led by Dr. Barrie Bennett (of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education), Bennett introduced / reminded teachers of Bloom’s Taxonomy with the suggestion / directive that students need and want to answer questions at the deeper end of the taxonomy: Application, Synthesis and Evaluation.

These levels of questions require students to, as Laufenberg is saying, go beyond simple regurgitation of factual information; instead, an Evaluation-level question such as “Do you think ___________ is a good thing or a bad thing? Why?” requires students to process, internalize, debate, and grapple with the information around them. I think that Laufenberg’s idea is very interesting: schools should be places where students process, internalize, debate, and grapple with concepts, where, as Laufenberg puts it, we “… ask students to actually experience the learning, to play, to inquire…” Indeed, the three main points of Laufenberg’s TEDx Talk are summed up as “Experiential Learning, Student Voice, and Embracing Failure.”

Here is the video from YouTube:


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