Can learning only be assessed after the fact or can we observe it as it happens?

What does a person’s face look like when she is learning?

Is her brow furrowed ?

Is he chewing on a pencil?

Is she intently observing someone or something?

Is he smiling? Laughing?

Is she gazing upward?

What position is her body in?

Is he sprawled on the floor with lots of materials spread around?

Is she curled up comfortably in a chair with a book?

Who is with the learner?

What conversation do you hear?

These are just the start of some questions to ask, as we shift from assessing learning after it occurs to doing more observing for learning.

What can you do to broaden your perception of what learning looks like? 

observing for learning

Observing For Learning

Observing for learning is a powerful concept that provides a framework for understanding how to nurture natural learning. Observing for Learning is based on the concept that “Everything is seen by the observer.” We are each observers of our own inner and outer worlds as they arise.

All parents will remember what it felt like when they realized that they had to interpret the baby’s action in order to understand what their baby wanted. Parents have been observing for learning ever since. What the SelfDesign program intends to do is to help children and parents become aware of observing for learning and, through reflection, to deepen in understanding of the natural way of learning.

Observing for learning is about active engagement with the child as the child is and not how we might think the child ought to be. Observing for learning is NOT clinical observation nor is it a description of activities (e.g. “read a book,” “did math”). It is about what a child feels and thinks about. It is about the conversations that go on in the family, the questions and comments that a child makes that reveal his or her inner processes of learning.