I have recently made a very conscious decision in my use of words. I have chosen to no longer use the word “student” when referring to those that I have had the privilege to have in my classroom or to those that other educators have had the privilege of guiding. The decision was more or less an epiphany while writing a portion of my followup book to Authentic Learning Experiences: A Real-World Approach to PBL.
If we refer to those children, or young adults, for whom we have been entrusted to care for seven hours a day, as merely students in our classroom, aren’t we then alluding to fact that we are the sole providers and disseminators of knowledge? This also implies that we are keeping these children and young adults at the lowest levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy – remembering.
It should be every educator’s goal to co-learn within the classroom and, most certainly, to take “students” beyond the level of remembering. Thus, I would encourage you all to stop referring to your “students” and start referring to your “learners.” The use of the word “learner” opens up a whole new world to creation and innovation. Anyone can Goolge, YouTube, or Khan Academy these days. However, it takes a special educator to foster the love of learning. Admitting that you may not know the answer speaks volumes in the classroom. Facilitating the learning process through careful scaffolding, support, and questioning leads to deeper inquiry and, consequently, deeper retention. Most importantly, moving from “teaching students” to “facilitating learners” brings meaning back into a system of education that has for far too long been focused on standardized testing.