I talk about Scott McCloud in lectures and classes all the time (well, not as often as I talk about the New Testament or hermeneutics, but pretty often), but his weblog post today really touched me. His experience of learning how to learn pertains to the highest degree to our understanding of pedagogy and instruction, and of cultivating the kind of relations among one another (teachers and learners) that catalyse learning. I learned how to learn about comedy, about Shakespeare, about statistics and probability, mostly apart from the full-time schooling in which I participated at the same time. Even in college my learning and my classes intersected only intermittently (kudos to Bowdoin’s philosophy major program, which, back in the day, had relatively few onerous requirements); they converged more nearly in seminary, and in my advanced graduate work they came closer to being identical. Even then, someone else’s decisions about requirements meant my having to walk through classes in which I learned less than I might have if I’d been free to devote that time and energy to study on terms more congruent with my interests and capacities.
This sort of concern informed Margaret’s and my practice of home-schooling our kids; the idea was to strengthen their capacity and inclination to learn, apart from institutional settings wherein a great deal of time might be spent doing things-other-than-learning. This sort of concern tends to situate me always closer to the anarchic side of educational practice than toward the systematized, one-size-applies-to-all-whether-it-fits-or-no side.
I hope that some of my students have had McCloudian experiences relative to learning, and I hope I didn’t impede or delay that “click.”