January 30, 2012
social learning

An 8 Year-Old Does Social Learning

For those that know me well, I’m a proud papa to three young goats aged 8, 6 and 4.

My beloved is also in the education ranks (we met in Montreal through our B.Ed program at McGill University) so our goats have little choice in the matter of an all-education smorgasbord upbringing.

The goats may end up demented, but that’s another story.

I’ve got a story to share for any education institution at any level out there that believes learning isn’t part formal, informal and social.

This past Sunday, around 3:30pm in the afternoon, the 8 year-old cracks open a formal learning asset (a book on science experiments) and shouts,

“Hey Cate, let’s do an experiment.”

Cate is the precocious 4 year-old.

Claire, the 8 year-old, skims the book and lands on an experiment entitled “swirly colours”. Prior to this point, she had actively engaged Cate in the selection process by reading out the various options and asking for her opinion.

As the two of them select “swirly colours”, Claire reads out the instructions with specific clarity and precision. Cate, eyes dutiful glued to the science book, starts listing out the ‘ingredients’ necessary for the experiment to be successful.

They proceed to gather the tools and ingredients and set out to embark on the experiment itself.

So far, if you’re keeping track, we have a formal learning asset (the book) being used in the learning cycle. We also have an older student coaching/mentoring the younger student with inclusion, engagement and affirmation. (informal learning, in my opinion)

And now, things get even more interesting.

Claire blurts out,

“we need to film this and take pictures”.

I, somewhat flabbergasted, continue to watch as the scenario unfolds.

Throughout the experiment, Claire snaps photos and records several videos. Cate at this point is observing, asking questions, and assisting as necessary. Claire continues to coach Cate, providing feedback and answers as necessary.

The “swirly colours” experiment concludes, to great success. At this point, obviously the natural next step for an 8 year-old crops up.

“Daddy, I’m going to blog about this now. Can you help me add the videos?” she asked me.

I’m not making this up.

So, over at www.clairepontefract.com, the 8 year-old documents the experiment via her blog, adds a few photos, and I assist her in publishing one of the videos and attach it to her post.

I ask Claire,

“why do you want to publish your experiment to your blog?”

Her response,

“Because it’s fun to share, and maybe somebody will comment on it.”

And yes, someone already has.

In summary, we’ve seen a formal learning asset (the book) become the catalyst for a holistic formal-informal-social learning outcome, where the 8 year-old has learned, coached, included and shared … all the while being transparent, whilst utilizing experiential learning concepts throughout.

All in all, this took 60 minutes.

That is, it doesn’t take much to enable this type of learning culture in any organization, be it K-12, Higher Ed or the Corporate World.

Take a minute to congratulate Claire and Cate on their feat, and the post by leaving a comment. The girls will be over the moon.

And what was the 6 year-old doing during the experiment? He thought it would be a good idea to design and develop his own Stanley Cup.

6 Replies to “An 8 Year-Old Does Social Learning”

  1. Hi Dan, quite simply I’m in awe of your daughter. I read her blog and her first post about Brothers and Sisters blew me away. As an eldest daughter myself I can remember being that age and having the same issues. What insight. So yesterday I gave her an #ff. She has a great future ahead of her as a social leader and you have every reason to be very proud of your family. Thanks for writing the post.

  2. Kudos to your family Dan

    Interesting things happening here…. All three learning philosophies emerge seamlessly with everyone, regardless of age. Every now and then, folks thihk that good habits start later in life,when actually, good learning habits trenscend from good family values as well ,not just school.

    In addition, It’s nice to see the reach a 9 year old has, when it comes to sharing what’s valuable in her eyes… and refreshing to see the reactions around this…


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