The most powerful method to teach anything is by example. That seems simple, doesn’t it?
Yet, if you want your child or student to be a lifelong learner, you must practice what you preach. You have to demonstrate how to be a lifelong learner. You need to be that example to them.
One of my favorite stories is of my brother-in-law. Recently, my sister took her family to a museum. My brother-in-law carefully and methodically read every plaque and every printed word throughout the museum. Of course, my young nephews and nieces were not particularly thrilled. They were anxious to move on and see something else. They even took silly pictures of themselves hanging all over each other as they waited for dad, yet, he gave his children the most valuable gift possible. He gave them an example of how to learn. This example has bled down into the next generation.
A few weeks ago, I sat with my nephew in my home during a family gathering. Several of us were sitting around the kitchen table, knocking around many different topics from education to politics. My teenage nephew asked a question, to which none of us had an answer. Without a thought, he picked up his iPad and searched for the response. He looked at a few websites and checked the sources to make sure that he had good and valid information. Where did he learn this? From his father. I have witnessed his father do the same thing many times.
When I share my thoughts on teaching by example, I often have parents ask how. How do you teach by example? The simple answer is to not let a learning and teaching opportunity pass you by.
By Tracy Harrington-Atkinson
Tracy Harrington-Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education, a master’s in higher education and continued on to a PhD in curriculum design. She has published several titles, including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.