Kartini School: The Difference between Learning and Doing

Kartini School
[Ed. note: This week’s guest blog has been written by Mary Gunesch, a licensed Oregon teacher and administrator, who recently joined Kartini’s clinical team. Mary has been instrumental in securing official recognition of Kartini School by the Oregon Department of Education.]
What if we told you that your child—during his/her time at Kartini Clinic—will not only learn to eat in healthier ways but will also learn better ways to think about learning and school?
Most patients we see have high expectation of themselves, and they are very responsible students.  While this seems desirable, and can help kids get good grades, it is worth looking at carefully.  Sometimes what looks like being “responsible” could be more accurately defined as “dutiful.”
When kids complete assignments, when their work is legible and turned in on time, they often get positive feedback (e.g., high grades, gold stars).  However, as kids get older, schoolwork gets harder.  In advanced classes in high school, as well as college courses, the expectations go far beyond neatness and timeliness.
At Kartini School we have time with students one-on-one.  We can help them decide if they are learning from an assignment (a worksheet, for example) or if they are simply doing it because it is expected.  We can alleviate stress for kids by helping them focus on the activities that facilitate  understanding.
Sometimes kids get bogged down by “all the work” they “have to do.”  By reducing the volume, we can reduce stress.  And when they feel less stressed, they get better sooner.
There is a difference between learning and doing.  Learning is like remodeling; you have to get in there and see what you know and then you have to get rid of the old incorrect concepts and build the new ones.
You can test this out by thinking about the earth, the sun, and the moon.  How do the rotations, the revolutions, and the tip of earth’s axis determine the seasons?  You learned it in school.  At least you did worksheets about it.  But did you learn it?  Can you explain it now?
While they are in the PHP, our kids won’t spend all day in school.  They have other activities to help them get well.  We’ll work with them during their time in Kartini School to enable them to learn the concepts their teachers are teaching.  But they may not do all the activities their classes are doing. That’s okay!  We’ll teach them to determine priorities in their schoolwork and help them learn to decide which activities are most helpful for them.
This is a good thing.  When they go on in education, they will face increasingly greater challenges, and they will have to know how to manage what often feels like too little time to complete all their work.
Educator and author Susan Weinbrenner asserts the importance of students knowing how to handle this.  She asks parents to think about when and where they want their kids to be when they struggle for the first time: “Surely not alone in a freshman dorm far from home.”