What counts as learning? What learning counts? Would it be too simplistic to reply EVERYTHING to these questions? Somehow I do not think so. There is so much learning that does not occur within the walls of the classroom or learning that extends what we might have encountered within the classroom. Learning to ride a motorcycle counts, right? If you have ever seen someone popping a wheelie on the interstate, you know that learning how to ride a motorcycle involves more than brake, clutch, gears, etc. My course in motorcycle safety was just one piece of my learning to ride. I learned how to deal with gravel; how to swerve without losing control, how to stop quickly without propelling myself over the handlebars. Does that count as learning? You betcha.
What learning counts? Is only cognitive learning valuable? CCSS seems to think so as the affective domain is not addressed. So, someone who learns and masters all the standards but does not develop empathy would be considered a success. I would, on the other hand, consider that a monstrous failure. Not understanding how the other person feels is key in so many situations in college and career after all. And in life, too.
So, as NCTE begins, as we hug friends we have not seen in some time and catch up, as we sit in sessions and listen or as we present to others sitting in our own sessions, what counts?
1. Collegiality counts.
2. Friendship counts.
3. Learning from others counts.
4. Learning as we put together and deliver presentations counts.
5. Learning in the conversations between sessions counts.
What I love about conferences is this learning that transcends session titles, content, and presenters. It is the new learning that occurs as I muse per my notes, as I talk about the sessions with my colleagues, as I blog about my day. This learning counts; all that is going on around me waits for me to pull it in and learn.