Can’t Force Learning

I must be trying to get my head back into school-mode because everything that happens lately, no matter how small, makes me think about school, leadership, and learning. My last post here is one example.

This morning, while relaxing in bed for a while too long, my 2-year-old wanted me to help him up on to the bed so he could snuggle up with me as I read my Twitter stream on my iPad. I tried to pull him up with my left arm. Dead weight. No can do. He laughed at me, knowing full well that pulling him up on the big bed was virtually impossible without a little help from him, even just a little.


I said to him, with a smile, “I can't help you up, if you don't help yourself just a little bit.”


He smiled at me behind his soother and hoisted his knee up on to the bed. Gently, I pulled him easily onto the bed beside me. Then, we were able to snuggle and relax, enjoying our time together.


This reminded me of our learners, all learners: children and adult.


We all need to help ourselves a bit first. Our mentors, our colleagues, our friends, our leaders cannot do it all for us. Others cannot help others through force. it simply does not work. there needs to be a two-way exchange. We need to take ownership over our own learning in order to really learn and have sustainable impact and change over our practise.


We can (and should) provide our learners (students, friends, teachers, colleagues, etc… – we are ALL learners) with a multitude of opportunities and inspiration, but, ultimately, their learning needs to be their responsibility.

We can work together, collaborate, and learn from one another, but there needs to be learning by all members.


Together we are better!

Good luck with your learning this year!


Published by Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am an elementary educator who recently returned to the classroom after 12+ years as an elementary school administrator. Lastly, I am passionate about helping others, learning about abuse, helping others in abusive relationships, and helping others understand their worth.

4 thoughts on “Can’t Force Learning

  1. Tia,
    I think this point is so understated in education. I wrote a ‘participant’s manifesto’ a while back (linked to my name)… And I believe that we don’t necessarily do a good job of building a culture in our classes and schools of students doing their part as an expectation. But then again, in saying that, I’m putting the responsibility back on the educator… More to be said, I guess;)

    1. Hi Dave,

      Yes, it is important to build that culture in our classrooms with our students, but more importantly, and first and foremost that culture needs to be built with the adults who are, ultimately, guiding the learning in the classrooms. Too often, people say they want to try something new, so as leaders, servants, if you will, we (I) try to do too much and then the ownership is in the wrong place. For true transformation to happen, long lasting transformation, the educators themselves must take a lead role I their own learning and professional growth and development. This is overwhelming to many because it is not the way it has bee done, in the past.

      Always learning and trying to figure things out and how to best support all the learners in our building.

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      1. Thanks, Dave!

        That’s a great post. I love that “Self-reflection is manditory”. Just imagine an environment where all stakeholders, students, all staff members, leaders, and parents all acknowledged and lived this statement. What kind of system would experience.

        I also love the idea of unlearning. This isn’t something I really though much of before reading Will’s book. It’s so true. We ALL have so much unlearning to do.

        Thanks for sending along the link.


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