Learn How to Recognize the Moment Learning Begins

There are many moments which are related to learning. There is no one moment where all learning happens, however, there are moments where a significant pivot in the mind of the learner takes place.

It is recognizing these pivotal learning moments, and what triggered them, which can greatly elevate our ability to impact the minds of the next generation.

What I share with you now is true of any learner at any age. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll be referring to learners between the age of 3 and 12, but do know that these ideas are universal.

I work with young learners on a weekly basis and have done so for the better part of 25 years. I enter a classroom and sit down with the students and I “play” with the intention of creating learning moments which will inspire the learners for that day, week, month, year and life. Here is what I have noticed:

Whether I ask a question or make a statement, read a book, play a brain game, or use a puppet, there is at some point a student, and maybe several, who have something to add.

When a child has something to add, the adult world quite often calls this “interrupting.” Quite often is it not, and is instead the students attempt at connecting what they know to what has just been said.

When this happens, my tendency is to:

  • Look at the child with direct eye contact (unless I’m in a cultural setting where that is uncomfortable)

  • Use an open hand to indicate “go ahead, I want to hear what you have to say”

  • I say, “Yes? What do you know?”

The moment I am referring to is when the student shows an interest that is profound enough that they are willing to risk by adding their voice to the conversation.

It is at this moment where we have a decision to make:

Do we remain the dominant force in this learning moment


Do we risk inviting the learner as a co-learner with us

I assume the choice is stunningly clear, unless we are in the business of creating merely robots.

  • Risk… then risk some more

  • Let them speak

  • Let them learn

  • Let them risk

I’m so excited after having just written that, I’m going to have to go and work out now.