LAS VEGAS, NV – Coral Academy of Science, Las Vegas is a k-12 public charter school with a focus on STEM education. Alex Carlone, an 8th and 10th grade English teacher, began the school year with an exploration of The Art of Learning in a prerequisite unit focused on the craft of learning, metacognition, inquiry, and mental schema.
“My goal for employing TAOL ideas in the classroom is to level the playing field for students who have not developed sound learning strategies organically through positive family culture or early formative experiences. I find that there is a considerable gap between our “regular” and “honors” students, a gap I can only explain through the idea of “non-cognitive competencies” and differences in emotional intelligence. In my mind, Waitzkin’s ideas pair well with the initiatives led by the likes of Paul Tough and Alain de Botton, which help students develop performance psychology and humanistic intelligence.”
Carlone’s 10th grade students began the unit by reading The Art of Learning and participating in discussions at the end of each chapter. They explored concepts such as the Soft Zone, the Downward Spiral, and entity versus incremental learning theories. Their initial discussions helped Carlone deepen his own understanding of the students’ strengths and needs as well as their personal approaches to learning. He is developing a follow up unit devoted to the motivation and strategy behind personal transformation, in which he will connect The Art of Learning to Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and tie in ideas related to positive psychology.
BLAINE, MN – Jon Loo, an English teacher at Blaine High School and varsity hockey and lacrosse coach, developed a grade-wide study of The Art of Learning for the 10th grade English students. With a strong focus on engineering, math, and science, the educators at this school are devoted to developing and implementing a curriculum in grades 9-12 that will challenge students in all curricular areas.
The 10th grade English students read The Art of Learning during their non-fiction literature study following a fiction study of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
“We think that The Art of Learning is an ideal follow up to continue reinforcing the distinctions between classical and romantic, or integral and entity based paradigms,” explained Loo. “The thought processes and learning processes that Josh outlines as his secret to success are in concert with the path to the best engineering, mathematical and scientific accomplishments. The students will love Josh’s real-life story, appreciate his perseverance, and learn from his method.“
After reading the first two chapters of the book, the students began to discuss its relevance to the study of English. “When Josh discusses the ability to learn in multiple disciplines by immersing in one task, I think he’s tapping into the power of metaphor, which of course is the gateway to the study of language. Making connections between disciplines, benefiting on an unconscious level for a deeply singular conscious activity, studying the numbers to leave the numbers, these are the realizations that we discussed hoping to achieve,” Loo explained.
The culminating project in this unit of study was for the students to write and produce video documentaries of fictitious inventors who succeed because they work incrementally in the process of engineering something useful. “The creation of the documentary will give the students some video story telling skills while reinforcing the values and principles great scientists and engineers follow to achieve excellence in their fields.”
You can view the student films “Lighting the Way” and “The Cure for Brain Cancer” here or on our Educator Resources page.
MAPLE, ONTARIO, CANADA – Jamie Cohen is a 9th grade English teacher and Director of Student Extra-Curricular Activities at Tanenbaum CHAT (Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto). This year he ran his second SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment) Student Leadership Seminar for 115 students ranging from 13-17 years of age, all of whom are in some way involved in creating, organizing, and running extra-curricular events and activities. He is interested in “spurring teenagers on through adversity to creative, new angles in the planning process of events, how to be clearheaded, present and cool under fire in the week leading up to an event and the event itself” and, overall, to learn how to become exceptional leaders. He used W2M (Willing to Make Mistakes) Inspiration Boards to explore Investment in Loss and Using Adversity with this highly competitive group of students, with an aim to help them shift their perspectives “when looking at mistakes, obstacles, and resistance points during the adventure of creating extra-curricular school projects.” They also used the learning principles to create a plan for their commitments and activities throughout the year, learn to prioritize goals based on those commitments, and become more cognizant of where they focus their energies. Self-assessment will be included in the process and there will be a follow up meeting to help keep the students focused on their commitments. Mr. Cohen has shared the complete assignment for the seminar, as well as a few of the students’ written and visual responses on our Resources for Educators page.
In addition to his work with the SOLE seminar, Mr. Cohen developed an Art of Learning program in his 9th grade English class as part of a 6-week novel study unit. The students used The Art of Learning in conjunction with their study of the novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. As a culmination to this unit, the students applied their knowledge of one of the main themes: empathy comes through investigating, seeing, hearing and feeling the world from different perspectives through the creation of a Curious Empathy Board that integrates the “play between knowledge, intuition, and creativity.” The Empathy Boards included both visual and verbal components and encouraged students to focus on ideas from The Art of Learning such as Numbers to Leave Numbers and Breaking Down Walls. Mr. Cohen has shared the complete assignment for the empathy board as well as some of the students visual and written responses on our Resources for Educators page.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN-Bishop Chatard High School, a dynamic educational environment for young men and women with different life experiences, focuses on the success of each student and on the growth of the whole person. A colleague’s recommendation led English teacher and department chair John Funk to The Art of Learning. “I hope to help my students recognize how useful a total learning approach to life will be, an approach that allows them to apply their skills to a variety of instances and experiences. I hope that this book will help them bring about change and help them to engage in social action.” John is asking his 11th- and 12th-grade students to keep a journal about experiences and thoughts that pertain to the text as they read it and encouraging them to continue to come back to the journal in times when they need to refocus or re-center. He is also sharing the book with other teachers in his department: “It provides a great learning opportunity for all people, especially students and teachers,” he says.
CLEVELAND, GA-At Stephens County High School, the philosophy is to provide all of the students with a quality education and to assist them to achieve the maximum of their potential. They take great pride in addressing the individual needs of their students and implement programs that address the specific needs of their population. By integrating The Art of Learning into their curriculum, Title 1 English teacher, Lisa Diehl is attempting to redefine the approach to classroom learning and instruction, thereby enhancing the learning and thinking abilities of struggling 9th-12th-grade learners.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN. Robert Chin attended the Art of Learning breakout session at the IB Conference of the Americas and was inspired to work with the book in his Senior IB Theory of Knowledge class and his IB English and AP English courses. 180 students are being impacted by the book’s concepts. He has recently begun using the Art of Learning with his AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) college-prep course, for students who will be the first in their families to attend college.