BCW teamAgency, Understanding Learners


ABC OF INQUIRY – LEARNER “I think therefore I am” Descartes

The Learner

The Learner

LEARNER:  I am here to wonder, explore and act

A learner as defined by the Merriam- Webster dictionary as ‘a person who is trying to gain knowledge or skill in something by studying, practicing, or being taught’ When one looks carefully at this definition, it can be seen that the learner is not passive, not just a receiver of ideas and information. The person, the learner is active in the discovery process. This idea is supported in the constructivist approach to learning, Vygotsky proposed that to be a learner involvement in social interactions was critical to the development of ideas. The learner works with a mentor to develop ideas across the zone of proximal development, and both learner and mentor are active participants in constructing, deconstructing and reflecting on ideas in order to develop new understandings or skills.  Learning is a reciprocal experience for students, teachers and mentors.

In more traditional models of education, the learner was seen as passive, as a receiver and storer of information that was passed on by an expert or more experienced practitioner. The learner’s role was to soak up ideas and information and then return or recall it a given times.

Today’s learneris any person, regardless of age, who is going through the process of developing ideas, skills, attitudes and understandings that will enable them to engage, interact, act, solve and pose problems in the world beyond the classroom.

When viewed like this, teachers and other adults who are a part of a learning community can also be positioned as learners, keen to explore, see and understand the world through the eyes of others (regardless of age) in their learning community. It invites teachers to position themselves as curious and still available to new ideas and perspectives.

The learner can be empowered to make choices and be response-abled in the learning community and learning processes or they can experience being beholden to another person who holds the knowledge and resources and defines the opportunities available. It is important to remember that power plays a big part in how the learner is seen, treated and responds.


*BCW will now use‘They,their — themself’ as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun in all subsequent material generated on our website.

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