Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Kick To the Head: Addressing Barriers to Learning

“‘ ‘Learning how to think’ really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.”

– David Foster Wallace, novelist

What did you learn in grade-school? What about high school? What did you take away from college — college college or community college? How to count, how to read, how to get along (or not) with your peers, how to diagram a sentence, rewire a house, or render a 3-D model of a chemical or molecular chain, the ins and out of accounting, sports law or event-planning…

In all that time, how did your education train you to think?


Educational institutions are also social institutions. Even as you learn your ABC’s and 1-2-3’s, you’re also absorbing all sorts of things not directly listed in the lesson plan. Notions of cooperation and competition, following the rules, meeting standards, getting along with other people, playing fair….we’re taught how to move and live in society — but we are rarely taught how to think. (Read the quote again, please.)

We memorize. We echo facts and figures. We follow, absorb, and more often than not, regurgitate the knowledge we absorb come exam-season. Continue reading A Kick To the Head: Addressing Barriers to Learning