Here’s a challenge, or experiment, for us school people to try. As we teach, administrate, facilitate learning, etc., for the next week or so, keep a tally of how much we are focused on the WHY versus the HOW.
For example, in math class, as we instruct on the lessons of linear inequality or side-angle-side geometry, are we more focused on HOW to do the math or WHY we are doing such math?
In an upper-grades course or elementary-classroom topic like history, perhaps it helps to switch the HOW to WHAT, and play out the same basic experiment. Are we more focused on WHAT happened, or are we spending as much time on the SO WHAT?
During a faculty meeting, perhaps we should be spending more minutes discussing and activating implementation around such things as WHY we assess, in addition to working on HOW we assess.
In recently reviewing a syllabus of a highly respected colleague, I marveled at a section of norms and philosophies that influence how this teacher – this learning facilitator – approaches the learning and teaching moments.
Why Over How – I heard it said once the, “The people who know how will always work for the people who know why.” I hope to equip students with the tools to understand why to use a particular font, cut here in a video, or design a menu in this way. In the age of technological accessibility knowing how is important, but the pursuit of why is the greater challenge that I hope to teach.
Certainly, the thinking above has great influence on why I feel so strongly about transdisciplinary education, contextual pedagogy, design thinking, #Synergy, and other threads of the tapestry blurring lines between “school” and “real life.”
For in capital-P PBL (Project-based learning, and, for me, the overarching organizer of the approaches in the previous paragraph), the WHY drives the voyage and motivates the journey. The HOW comes as the need-to-knows reveal themselves from the intrinsic lurches compelled by the WHYs.
If you conduct such an experiment and count your moments of focus on the WHY versus the HOW, then I’d love to read feedback on your WHY:HOW ratio.