What is meaningful learning?

I posed this question to my class recently as a way to get them thinking about what made a learning experience meaningful and we got some brilliant thinking and debating out of it. I was really impressed.

To begin with, I asked the children to individually come up with a learning experience that was particularly meaningful for them.

Then they had to write what made this experience meaningful around the outside of the piece of paper.

Following this, the children had to get into groups and collate the ideas they had. Eventually coming up with a top 5.

We then got together as a class and debated and voted until we had a class set of the “top 5 things you need for meaningful learning”. Our list included:

  • You get a sense of satisfaction out of it.
  • It’s relevant to your life or useful for you.
  • It’s nice if it’s fun but it doesn’t always have to be (we had quite an interesting debate on this one!)
  • It’s inspiring.
  • It’s challenging.

Then, this week in groups, pairs or individuals the class set about coming up with a simile that encapsulated meaningful learning – “meaningful learning is like…” This I was really impressed with. We had ideas ranging from marriage (ha ha!) to a roller coaster, to a candle. All of the ideas had to be explained to the class and all were incredibly well thought out.

We will use these ideas to evaluate our learning as a class but I think it would be a useful exercise to do with teachers too. It would get them to think about whether the learning in their classroom is always relevant and worthwhile. I know I have started to use the class’ list as a bit of a check list when planning.

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2 thoughts on “What is meaningful learning?

  1. Interesting that the students feel it doesn’t have to be fun all the time. Do we get too obsessed with “making it fun”? Maybe fun is the wrong word and we should focus on “enjoyable”, or the learning being positive instead.

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