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Learning Through Humility

by Terry Heick

Humility is an interesting starting point for learning.

There is a tempting sense of empowerment in our current “age of information” that can lead to loss reverence and even entitlement to “know things.” If nothing else, modern technology access (in much of the world) has replaced subtlety with spectacle, and process with access.

A mind properly observant is also properly humble. In “A Native Hill,” among other ideas Wendell Berry gets at the idea of humility and limits. Standing in the face of all that is unknown can either be overwhelming (and thus numbing), or illuminating (and thus invigorating). How would it change the learning process to start with a tone of humility?

To be self-aware in your own knowledge, and the limits of that knowledge? To clarify what can be known, and what cannot? To be able to match your understanding with an authentic and compelling need?

learning-through-humility7 Ideas For Learning Through Humility

In your classroom, this might look like:

1. Concept-mapping what is known and unknown, and documenting change as it occurs

2. Articulating degrees of knowledge, and documenting change as it occurs

3. Artfully demonstrating the relationship between a learner and the information being learned

4. Authentically demonstrating a need to know

5. Showing patience for the process of learning

6. Visually comparing what is known with what is unknown, and documenting change as it occurs

7. Preferring (as a system of education and society) informed uncertainty and iteration to superficial feedback and reductionist assessments

This idea is admittedly abstract and seemingly out-of-place in increasingly “research-based” and “data-driven” systems of learning, but that’s part of the allure I’d think.

Adapted image attribution devianrtuser moonglowlilly under CCC license