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Conference Session Reflection (Lilly 2020 San Diego, Feb 29, 2020)

I returned today from the Teaching for Active and Engaged Learning, Lilly Conference, San Diego CA, and wanted to share one very big takeaway from one particular session. The session was led by Anton Tolman, Professor of Behavioral Science and Faculty Fellow for the Office of Teaching and Learning at Utah Valley University, although a student of his, Nathan Yerke, was the lead presenter of the study being explained in this breakout session. The focus was on the Transtheoretical Model of Change and its application to education. There was a lot to take away but I wanted to share some extrapolated thoughts on the topic. I began with a seemingly unrelated thought process that turned out to weave into this work on the Transtheoretical Model.


My work, personally, is on helping K-12 schools adopt and adapt a Self-Directed Learning (SDL) environment and metacognition is an organic element of that process. The challenge I've found isn't whether students are receptive to this approach but rather it's the adults responsible for the education of today's youth whom I've found most challenging in shifting toward this perspective. I thought it might help somehow if I were to take a more philosophical approach to perhaps identify an underlying cause for this challenge. I began connecting concepts of metacognition to the Stoic school of philosophy by relating Stoic-Determinism to metacognitive concepts, e.g. awareness of personal, social, and societal influences to one's capacity to cognitively think through the processes for learning.


The bigger challenge is when I relate Stoic Determinism to its relative opposite, Free Will, by way of Epicureanism (a form of Hedonism), because I find myself wanting to connect Epicureanism to the idea of giving in to one's own desire to learn freely without control of a teacher (which might be confused with SDL) - or worse, to give up control regardless of environmental conditions to whomever is in control of your education - both of which are focused on how your actions are controlled by emotional responses to a relatively non-evaluated path for academic, social, and emotional growth.


What I've found interesting is the connection such a comparison of philosophy and education has with the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) for Change (or what I think is more accurately called the Transtheoretical Model for Learning, because learning *is* change). The first two stages of this model seem focused more on the Epicureanistic school of philosophy while the final two stages lean more toward the Stoic-Deterministic school (which I'm linking to SDL).


I think that this can help make sense of why it is so important to have open communication about how schools are implementing their approach toward the systematic mass education of youth. These connections being made about the educational approach toward metacognition and learning, in context of a Stoic-Deterministic / TTM Maintenance / Self-Directed perspective toward teaching and learning, can potentially lend itself to a deeper understanding across disciplines (e.g. psychology, neurobiology, eco-sociology, behavioral economics, etc.) for how educators might better understand the impact their learning environment has on individuals seeking to learn (or, conversely, subjecting themselves to what is being taught) in their classrooms. Most importantly, I think, is the goal of creating adults in our society that are best prepared for career or college opportunities.


I feel it's important to shift K-12 schools toward a system that supports Self-Directed Learning, finding balance between identifying *what* needs to to learned and learning *how* to learn (before they reach the university and career levels of educational and societal demands). I believe such a shift would benefit from cross-discipline support from universities (professors, admin, students, and communities) and for both universities and corporations to be more vocal about how they would like to refocus K-12 education to better prepare students for what they are expecting from students today. In this case, I think the bridge needing to be built is in the form of Self-Directed Learning in K-12 schools.




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