I like this word. It implies learning HOW to learn. It’s a vogue word that shows that there is one ‘acy’ word that says it all. Literacy and numeracy are part of its domain. It encompasses them and almost every other aspect of human endeavour.
The word suggests that the object of schooling is to develop each pupil’s idiosyncratic learning styles to the nth degree. It is the best reason for forcing people to attend school. The strength of a nation depends on developing strong learning habits in each of its citizens.
It is a word that needs to be used in popular, every-day literature, especially when other ‘-acy’ words are used.
In the past, we described it as a ‘process’ attitude to learning vis-à-vis ‘content’. Both attitudes, however, can live happily together and it is essential that they do so. A lot depends on a teacher’s inclination and professional expertise. Each teacher is supplied with a syllabus, an expressed list of things that someone else believes ought to be acquired by pupils because the items listed will be useful in the quest for further learnings. Some items of content just need to be absorbed, like multiplication and other ‘tables’, rules of syntax etc…. things fondly called ‘basics’. All syllabus items are usually approved by the majority, as items that a child can cope with during the teaching-learning exchanges, attuned to its age and previous experience.
It’s a relatively simple task, given time and plenty of practice sessions, to ‘persuade’ pupils to acquire basic content. It’s part of the processes of achieving high levels of learnacy.
Using syllabus suggestions to develop keen attitudes to learning and to develop learnacy through twelve years of schooling is a very difficult undertaking. Teachers are specially trained to do this with groups of pupils, although it is quite obvious that the smaller the group the more successful. There needs to be maximum one-to-one contact for each style to be understood and utilised.
It can be done and there are plenty of examples to show that learnacy can predominate in the teaching acts and that pupils accumulate more basic knowledge while this ‘feeling’ predominates a classroom than by the use of any other orientation. Australian teachers, universally noted for their ability, know what is meant.
The more creative have achieved outstanding results just by their determination to help each child ‘learn things better’.
A Google of ‘learnacy’ will reveal the problems with packaging the concept. Guru Guy Claxton [‘What's the Point of School'] suggests that the gap between the way we learn at school and the way we learn in the outside world needs to be narrowed. He quotes Joan Riddick who suggests that children at school are hungry for the three Rs – responsibility, respect and reality, which can be achieved through the three Cs – choice, challenge and collaboration. Claxton developed a notion of ‘Models of Mind’ that helps teachers with their own thinking. Real learning, he says, ensures that children retain their birthright to learn. Neat.
The New Zealand government invited Professor Claxton from the University of Winchester to visit because his concepts of learning power were in line with the N.Z’s New Curriculum. The Australian government invited a New York ex-lawyer administrator whose concepts of progress were test oriented, failure-based notions of content achievement! The future of both countries should be interesting to follow.