Authentic learning is learning that complements and parallels the real world. It’s an aggregate of real life. It’s part of being human. So why do we shield learning from the human condition? We say we want learning to be real, self-directed, intrinsically motivated, and authentic. But most of education continues to uphold rigid structures, straight lines, quiet mouse, low-risk-high-safety activities, penalties, behavior sticks, points taken, traditional letter grades, order, compliance, and a drive for perfection.

As humans, we have a tendency to flounder and stumble and screw up. Chaos and disorder are all around and we are defenseless against it.  It’s our propensity to mess stuff up. To fail.  Many times our ideas and thoughts have no organization, no conformity, and no path of convergence.  Actually our ideas many times are absurd and ridiculous.  Ridiculous and therefore, brilliant.

We’re human. And this is what human beings do: we take risks in the midst of chaos with the threat of plausible failure.

We need to show some grace to ourselves. Give ourselves a break.

Embrace and celebrate our condition.

Once we allow transparency and vulnerability to pervade our exterior, and allow others a window into ourselves, we in turn expose our humanity. Once we expose our humanity, we can experience thinking and learning assiduously.

Zealous, airy, and unsuppressed.

Exonerated from shame of ignorance, free from feeling stupid.

That’s authentic, human learning.


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