Reflections on How We Learn Best

Posted by Stanley Communications on 12/8/2022 3:00:00 PM

Here at Stanley, learning unfolds in our classroom guided by teachers who have passionate beliefs about how our students learn best. This past week, the 3-4-5 classes demonstrated a culmination of months of learning with their Invention and Toy Convention. This joyful and uniquely “Stanley” celebration and the process of learning that led up to it truly capture what we believe about how learners learn best. 


A learner learns best when learning is meaningful. 3-4-5 students began their invention design process by brainstorming problems that come up in their lives and in their world: waking up on time to get to school, getting laundry down the stairs to the washing machine, helping grandmothers get their medicine quickly. Here at Stanley, we believe that learners are motivated to learn from experiences that are connected to their lives, culturally relevant and authentic. Learners learn best when they are interested and care about what they are learning. 


A learner learns best with choice. 3-4-5 students were encouraged to think big. While teachers were available to brainstorm and to provide resources, students ultimately chose the direction they went with the invention they wanted to create. Here at Stanley, we believe that learners are naturally curious and are motivated when they have some ownership over their learning and are able to make decisions about how and what they learn. When learners are allowed some autonomy and time to explore, experiment, problem solve and enjoy their learning, they are invested in their learning and actively participate. 


A learner learns best when doing and thinking. These 3-4-5 scientists grappled! There were inventions that were redesigned and rebuilt up to the day of the celebration. Students explored first hand how the dynamics of simple machines brought their inventions and toys to life . . . or didn’t, and then they tried again. Here at Stanley, we believe that learners grow in understanding of how the world works from the continual interaction between an experience and how the mind makes sense of the experience. Learners learn, building upon what they already know, by organizing experiences and making sense, or meaning, of what they encounter, developing schemas for how the world works and constructing meaning. Learners learn most effectively as a result of their own effort, action and struggle to understand. For learners, particularly young children, their doing and thinking, and making sense of their world, what is happening in their lives, is often done through play. 


A learner learns best from interacting with others. Working in groups of two or three, 3-4-5 students became design teams. Ideas were shared, compromises made, mistakes and frustrations felt and successes celebrated. Here at Stanley, we believe that as learners communicate, collaborate, exchange points of view and solve problems together, they learn. As learners discover with mentors, they learn. As learners interact with kind, inclusive people, they learn. They observe others and then try it out for themselves: skills, strategies, habits of mind and heart, compassionate ways to care for themselves and others.


A learner learns best when devoting time. 3-4-5 students began their unit on simple machines in the first weeks of school, engaging with toys to learn the beginning ideas of these concepts. Over the last three months, students explored and delved deeper into these ideas, experiencing them firsthand through experimentation. Here at Stanley, we believe that in order to learn, learners need time to explore, practice and eventually build expertise. How we choose to spend our time reflects what we value and leads to new growth experiences. 


The 3-4-5 Invention and Toy Convention brought together parents, K-1-2 and 6-7-8 students, and administrators. It was a joyful celebration honoring some of our strongest British Primary values. At Stanley, we believe that a learner learns best when engaged within a rich process of learning. When learners are engaged, they do not have to be made to learn, they want to learn. They put in energy, even if it’s hard. When learners are intellectually and emotionally involved, they are happy to focus, dedicate time and persevere. They become joyful, lifelong learners prepared to make a positive difference in the world.