Published in Pacelli Perspective

March 15, 2022

Becoming Good Learners In a Positive School Culture

According to Neil Postman and Charles Weingertner, as demonstrated in their award-winning book, Teaching as a Subversive Activity, good learners believe and do certain things that less effective learners do not believe and do.  And therein lies the key.

            So, what do good learners believe?  What do good learners do?

            The following is a summary:

  1.  Good learners have confidence in their ability to learn even though they are sometimes frustrated and discouraged.  They have a profound faith that they are capable of solving problems, and if they fail at one problem, they are not incapacitated when confronting another problem.
  2. Good learners tend to enjoy solving problems.  The process interests them, and they don’t require immediate success.
  3. Good learners prefer to rely on their own judgement.  They are independent thinkers, but welcome cooperative direction.  They are also not fearful of being wrong.  They relish in the challenge and want to make sense of the unknown.  They would rather delay judgement until the evidence is clear that they are on the right path.
  4. Good learners thrive in a culture that is adventurous. They enjoy exploring alternatives to all situations.  This allows for the examination of a number of possibilities.  With this intense focus, they develop a high degree of respect for facts, and realize those facts are often tentative, requiring more research.
  5. Good learners pursue success by asking meaningful questions with answers that are not trivial.  The challenge is in the unknown, and they are cautious about generalizations while they continually verify what they believe.

We at Oak Hill Academy in Lincroft, N.J., provide an environment in which these behaviors can flourish.  Teachers promote learning behaviors – both attitudes and skills – that are constantly being employed.  At Oak Hill, teachers encourage significant innovation with the student at the center of the process.  A positive school culture is the goal – where students are given the opportunity to use their thinking and develop a true understanding of topics and how they intersect with other concepts.

      Emphasis is not on memorizing facts, but rather to better understand how these concepts interrelate and impact the world.  Understanding of theory, the hallmark of critical thinking, allows the learner to go beyond the surface giving students a chance to reflect on their ideas.  Deeper learning tasks also provide the opportunity for students to take more than one route to get a possible answer.

      In this positive school culture, the learner achieves success by observing closely, describing what is happening, building explanations, interpreting results backed by evidence and looking for other points of view.  In this environment, teachers prod students to wonder, ask essential questions, and leave the door open for students to make connections that relate to their own curiosity about the world around them.  With this culture of deep learning, students will always have the proper skill and reasoning ability to build bridges to new places.  Oak Hill Academy sets up the learning environment that empowers students to think and act in a safe place, where they are allowed to take risks as they move toward solving problems, and answering questions that are important for human in-depth understanding.

      Excellent examples of this positive school culture can be found in the many opportunities taken by our students to participate in academic competitions and meetings. Students challenge themselves to solve problems, dialogue about possible solutions, share knowledge and skills with each other, and work both individually and cooperatively to attain a mutual goal. These good learners enjoy the journey and relish in their accomplishments because they have done the necessary work. Confidence and pride are wonderful by-products!

Oak Hill Academy is a NJ private school that is co-educational, independent, nonsectarian, and nonprofit for grades pre-kindergarten through eight. Oak Hill Academy is dedicated to a traditional, challenging, and caring learning environment that encourages comprehensive thought processes and deep understandings; thus promoting the wholesome intellectual, emotional, moral, and physical lifetime growth of our students. If you want to learn more about what makes Oak Hill Academy one of the best private school in NJ, visit us online at www.oakhillacademy.com , or subscribe to our mailing list to be notified when we post more topics.

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Oak Hill Academy is a Monmouth County NJ private school that is co-educational, independent, nonsectarian, and nonprofit for grades per-kindergarten through eight.

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