Learning: It is 3-Dimensional!

Part 1 of Learning

As our world evolves rapidly, success depends on our ability to learn, adapt, and thrive. But what does authentic learning entail, and how can we effectively apply it? This article investigates the three dimensions of learning: Learning to Learn, Learning to Be, and Learning to Do. By understanding how these dimensions are crucial for personal and societal growth, we can better equip ourselves for success in the 21st Century. Not only does this prepare us to become lifelong learners, but it also promotes critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are essential for success in today’s social systems.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Indeed, authentic learning is not just about acquiring knowledge but also about using that knowledge to impact the world around us positively. Albert Einstein said, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” Learning is not just about accumulating information but also about developing the ability to analyse, synthesise, and apply that information to real-world situations.

The Three Dimensions of Learning

  • Learning to learn is like becoming a self-directed explorer of knowledge. This is about developing the skills and knowledge necessary to learn effectively. It includes setting learning goals, finding and evaluating information, and reflecting on your learning. It is like taking command of your learning ship—a skilled captain who can plot routes, change course, and brave unexplored waters—in our rapidly shifting world, becoming a self-directed learner like having a modern GPS on your ship. It means gaining the skills to learn, unlearn, and re-learn within and beyond traditional boundaries. However, unlearning—undoing what we’ve mistakenly learned—can be more challenging than learning. Learn more
  • Learning to be is about personal growth and development and contributing to society. It involves shaping your values, beliefs, cultural background, and sense of self. It goes beyond just acquiring new skills; it requires understanding the process of self-discovery and improvement. It encourages us to challenge our assumptions and avoid cultural stagnation. It also involves learning to question the status quo and think critically. Think of it as creating a map of your inner landscape, a journey of exploration into uncharted territory that encompasses your desires, abilities, values, beliefs, cultural background, and sense of self. It’s like putting together a puzzle, each representing a different aspect of your identity.
  • Learning to do involves acquiring skills and knowledge to solve real-world problems. It involves thinking holistically and connecting the dots between different disciplines. In today’s world, learning cannot be confined to university silos, and the ability to apply knowledge effectively is invaluable. It’s like navigating through challenging waters of practical application, steering your ship through turbulent seas, and solving real-world problems, even when the fog of uncertainty obscures your view. Imagine the natural world as an ever-shifting sea without clear boundaries. Traditionally, learning was about preparing your ship for a lifelong journey. However, modern times require captains who can navigate diverse currents and terrains.

Here are a few examples of three-dimensional learning systems in action:

  • Project-based learning: Project-based learning is an approach to teaching and learning that focuses on real-world problems and projects. It is a great way to develop all three dimensions of learning. For example, students might work on a project to design and build a sustainable house. This would require them to learn about architecture, engineering, and sustainability. It would also allow them to develop their problem-solving skills and work ethic. This project is an excellent example of three-dimensional learning because it produces all three dimensions of learning:
    • Learning to learn: The students must learn new information and skills to complete the project. They also have to learn how to manage their time and resources effectively.
    • Learning to be: The students must develop teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. They must also build communication skills to present their design to the class.
    • Learning to do: Students must apply their knowledge and skills to a real-world problem. They also have to learn how to use different tools and materials.

It is essential to create projects relevant to students’ lives and allow them to develop all three dimensions of learning.

  • Service Learning: Is another approach to teaching and learning that combines academic study with meaningful service to the community. It is a great way to develop the learning to be dimension. For example, students might volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. This would allow them to learn about their community’s challenges and develop empathy and compassion.
  • Personalised Learning: Is an approach to teaching and learning that tailors the curriculum and instruction to the individual needs of each student. It is a great way to develop the learning-to-learn dimension. For example, students might choose their projects to work on or learn independently. This would allow them to develop self-directed learning skills and pursue their passions.

Challenges of implementing three-dimensional learning systems

There are several challenges to implementing three-dimensional learning systems. One challenge is that we require a shift in mindset from both teachers and students. Teachers must be willing to let go of the traditional teacher-centred approach to learning and give students more ownership of their education. Students need to be willing to take responsibility for their learning and to be more active participants in the learning process.

Another challenge is that three-dimensional learning systems can be complex to assess. Traditional assessments, such as standardised tests, are not designed to measure all three dimensions of learning. Developing new assessment tools that measure critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity is essential.

How to overcome the challenges

Many things can be done to overcome the challenges of implementing three-dimensional learning systems. One is to provide teachers with professional development opportunities to learn about three-dimensional learning and how to implement it in their classrooms. Another is to develop new assessment tools that can measure all three dimensions of learning.

It is also essential to create a supportive school culture that values all three dimensions of learning. This means building a culture where students feel comfortable asking questions, taking risks, and making mistakes. It also means creating a culture where teachers are supported to implement three-dimensional learning.

In a world where change is constant, and the horizon is ever-shifting, the three dimensions of learning—Learning to Learn, Learning to Be, and Learning to Do—are your indispensable navigational tools for success. Learning to Learn empowers you to captain your learning ship. Learning to Be assists you in crafting a map of your inner world. Learning to Do equips you with the wisdom to overcome practical challenges effectively. By adopting these dimensions, you’ll not only navigate the seas of life but also chart your course toward personal growth and societal progress.

In the words of the great philosopher Aristotle, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Learning is not just about intellectual growth but also about developing empathy, compassion, and other social and emotional skills. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Learning is not just a means to an end but a lifelong journey of personal and societal growth.

Stay with us as we continue to explore and provide practical guidance on living authentically and mastering the art of lifelong learning. Three-dimensional learning systems are essential for the success of social systems in the 21st Century. We need to educate individuals who can learn, unlearn, and re-learn, are self-directed learners and can think holistically and solve real-world problems.

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