What is Learning?: An Interview with Elliot Washor

Share this...

In this episode, Elliot Washor, co-founder and co-director of The Big Picture Company in Providence, Rhode Island, tackles the question, “What is learning?” In large part, the answer to this question forms the philosophy of all Big Picture Schools. Once again, the 2008 Building Learning Communities Conference, will feature a pre-conference session hosted by the MET School, one of these Big Pictures Schools. Visit http://www.novemberlearning.com/blc for more details.



  1. This was an inspiring podcast. I completely agree with Elliot Washor. Learning today requires real life experiences, and not just formal education. Learning should be more hands on to actually gain kids’ interest. A lot of things you learn in regular schools aren’t even the important or meaningful things you need to know in life.
    The example Mr. Washor used about the boy with musical ability is a perfect example. Some kids’ interests lie outside of what schools can really teach them. Life experiences, like his parents providing him with the instrument, are what we truly learn from, because they are objects of interest. The building blocks of what schools teach are not focused around what people are interested in or need to know. The Big Picture Schools sound like an advanced step into education, really taking a good look at what should be taught through experiences.

  2. Great conversation starter, but I get worried about throwing the baby out with the bath water…It may help to have in our minds a picture of what we mean bu understanding. I feel I understand something if and when I can do some, at least, of the following: (1) State it in my own words (2) give examples of it (3) recognize it in various guises and circumstances (4) see connections between it and other facts or ideas (5) make use of it in various ways (6) foresee some of its consequences (7) state its opposite or converse. This list is only a beginning; but it may help us in the future to find out what our students really know as opposed to what they can give the appearance of knowing, their real learning as opposed to their apparent learning (Arithmetic Teacher 26 Sept 1978) This may be a dated exert, but I still feel that it is relevant when we ask what is learning??


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Get Our Latest Professional Development Articles, Web Literacy Resources, and much more!

A resource no educator should be without!