Learning vs. Owning

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

| by Thuy Truong, TPT Teaching and Coaching, 9/10/2020|

When I was in the fourth grade and was still learning English as an ESL student from an immigrant family, I did something really funny. Well, it is funny to me now. I saw my homeroom teacher write with an erasable marker on a transparency sheet with a lighted projector. Then, I went home to try it with my own erasable marker because my teacher looked so cool standing next to the projector. I also thought it would save my parents tons of money if I practiced writing my spelling words on one plastic sheet with erasable ink instead of wasting limitless amounts of scratch papers. Plus, I’d look way cooler studying. But basically what I did was I took a skill that I saw and applied it in a completely new landscape. Learning sticks when the student can transfer the learning to various avenues of life. At that moment, learning becomes owning. When students own the learning, it will stay with them forever as it will become impactful in all aspects of their lives.

Four ways to help your student transform learning into owning:

1. Remember the Major Concepts

Let’s say you are trying to teach the student about organization. Even though organization is a skill, the major concept in organization boils down to having an intentional system to create order over chaos and using an organizational tool that maintains that very system you had in mind. All the student would need to remember is, organization means having a system. In this way, your student can remember the major concept easily and deeply without feeling overwhelmed about learning a new skill.

2. Use New Skills in Many Different Situations

Behind every useful skill is a major concept that can be applied in various life situations enabling the student to expand their cognitive development and learn life skills. Let’s take the skill of breaking things down into digestible pieces. This skill can be applied to homework. However, parents can show students what a stress reliever this