Learning in a Post-truth World

College Blog Wednesday, 13 May 2020

“Post-truth” is a term that I am starting to hear more regularly discussed in the media which can be defined as “the disappearance of shared objective standards for truth”. Perhaps the post-truth world is best exemplified by political leaders giving dubious medical advice and then later claiming it to be sarcasm. How do we prepare students to navigate a complex world, to analyse and weigh evidence, to be discerning of what is true and untrue, and to judge the value of information in a post-truth world? Dare I say that simply focusing on facts and figures will not be enough. In a world that faces many problems and is constantly changing it is essential that we cultivate habits and attitudes that enable young people to become better learners. Students need to be able to face difficulty and uncertainty calmly, confidently and creatively, knowing God’s plan for all of creation.

When teachers plan for students to become better learners one of the many aspects they consider is the way students should approach their learning. In the Building Purposeful Lives Framework this aspect is referred to as learning dispositions. These dispositions include intentional strategies, skills and attitudes that are embedded in the classroom learning environment, have relevance across all subject areas and help students develop powerful learning habits. Focusing on these dispositions supports the philosophy that a large influence on a student’s education is not only the content covered in class but also how students learn. A teaching and learning process that uses learning dispositions effectively enables all students to become stronger, more self-regulated learners.

A focus on learning dispositions encourages each student to be engaged as inquirers and thinkers of their own learning. In each unit of work teachers select a small number (perhaps one or two) of the dispositions to particularly focus on and explicitly stretch student capability. It is helpful for students to reflect on their development as learners by asking themselves the following questions:

  • What are my personal strengths?
  • What dispositions can I improve on?
  • What can I do now to improve?

In the early years it is likely that students will be guided through applying specific skills when completing tasks and activities. Over time students can increasingly take responsibility for their own learning and select which dispositions are best suited in a particular situation. The learning dispositions are contained in 4 categories as shown in the table below.

Ongoing reflection of student progress in learning dispositions between students and teachers as well as parents and students, further supports students developing their capacity to learn and play an active role in their own education. As a result, students at Norwest Christian College will build their capacity to grow resilience and be thoroughly equipped to pursue God’s purpose for their lives. As we wrestle with the post-truth oddities of our world it is important to remember that God has chosen us to exist in this time and I am excited to see how our students will change the world for Him now and in the future.

Daryl Hinton
Head of Secondary Years