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Great Teaching Means Letting Go

Author: Grant Wiggins

We had been working for a few weeks on the same key ‘moves’ on the field related to creating ‘space’. After a few practices, the team looked good in the drills – they’ve got it! Next two games? Nothing: like we never learned it. Finally, in exasperation I yelled at my co-captain, Liz, one of the prime offenders in not using the moves practiced: USE what we worked on!! I yelled. Liz yelled back from the field: We would, Mr Wiggins, but the other team isn’t lining up the way we did the drills!!

There are two vital lessons here about learning:

      1. Transfer is the bottom-line goal of all learning, not scripted behavior.
      2. Transfer means that a learner can draw upon and apply from all of what was learned, as the situation warrants, not just do one move at a time in response to a prompt.

In a word: autonomy. You have to be able, on your own, to size up when to use what you previously learned, i.e. analyze the challenge, and judge what to do, mindful of a repertoire of prior learnings; then, implement a purposeful move, and assess its effect.

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