8. Know how to learn

“The most important skill for everyone to learn is how to learn! For the formal education ahead of them; for the informal learning they truly seek to engage in for fun, enjoyment, and personal satisfaction in added capabilities (and the intrinsic motivation generated for learning in general); and of course the lifelong learning so important to a successful and satisfying career and personal life.” —John Bennett, emeritus associate dean/professor, University of Connecticut

“The most important thing we can teach our children is how to learn on their own. Like the old adage, ‘If you feed someone they eat one meal, if you teach them to fish they can eat for life.’ Our students will need to know things during their lifetime that we can’t even imagine right now. If we teach them how to learn, they will always have the tools/skills to teach themselves.” —Sydney Gilbey, Windham Middle School

“After 40 years in a primary classroom, I wanted my students to think for themselves. The skill I most wanted students to learn was to assume some of the responsibility for their own learning. I hated it when a child would complete an assignment or task that they were given and said, ‘I’m done!’ As if it was up to me to tell them what to do next. It took a lot of time early in the year for students to know that there were any number of things they could do next. Read a book, write a story or letter, practice their math flash cards, make a list of what they wanted for Christmas or what they would do after school, investigate with a math manipulative or a science task, etc.” —Lucy Hahn

“No matter what excellent technology, creative lesson plans, or other pedagogical methods they encounter, students must learn how to learn; to do this, they must understand that learning means much more than entering a search term and clicking on a website followed by speed reading and/or copying and pasting information. Finding information is one important component of learning, but it is ineffective if students do not understand why the information is significant, how it should be appropriately and ethically used, and to what extent the information is relevant, credible, timely, etc. Students are more than ready to question data or conclusions, but often lack of focused study has rendered them unready to pursue such questions to well-reasoned conclusions.” —Deborah S. DeCiantis, Ph.D., associate professor of English, North Greenville University