Teaching a Plant to Learn

There are tons of remarkable characteristics of plants.

Grass has the ability to warn other grass it is about to be mowed (that sweet smell after mowing the grass, is actually the grass sending a warning signal). Plants can be trained to take a smaller shape and will reduce the size proportionally of its leaves and even bark (this is an art form in of itself called Bosnia).

Yet, even with all these remarkable abilities…can you teach a plant to really learn?

Everyone would say not possible, its obvious a plant cannot learn…heck they don’t even have a brain! As an agriculture teacher I take special pleasure in rocking my students’ world when I share with them to the contrary there is mounting evidence that they can and do learn! Follow the link below to learn more:

http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/12/15/can-a-plant-remember-this-one-seems-to-heres-the-evidence/

In education we face an analogous challenge. We struggle with trying to help our students learn. We have done an excellent job at siloing the information from the process. Students are ‘learning’, that’s not the issue, but are they recognizing how they are doing so and building upon it for when we are not around to guide them?

Why would learning how to learn be important? Classrooms are ‘safe’ places for learning. We have cookbook labs that help students understand the basic principles. Most students accomplish those tasks excellently. Yet, when tasked with leaving the map and tackling a problem that does not have a clear answer or process…students and many times ourselves freeze up. 

The raw process of learning is challenging, exhilarating, frustrating, and sometimes just plain boring. It’s hard to express, but I have found that the learning process can elicit all these emotions and sometimes more than one at the same time!

Yet, do we allow students to feel that process, reflect during the process, and allow the process to play out? Unfortunately, we don’t have time to do that…with all this other content we must teach, we just pour on the content, find an interactive way for them to learn the concept and hope it will stay retained long enough till the upcoming state exam.

More than ever our students desperately need to learn how to learn. Now, how do we accomplish that?

I won’t claim to have an answer, but maybe the place to start is taking a deep dive into an unclear concept ourselves. Feel what it is like to learn again…recognize the struggle for ourselves. Rediscovering the learning process will be our only hope in helping our students do the same.

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