• Eduardo Sacco Caprotti

From Student to Learner

Updated: Dec 29, 2018

"Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think." - Albert Einstein

Early this year I've had the opportunity of attending a workshop with two of the Yamakasi founders. I enjoyed my first Art Du Deplacement experience and I loved the conversations with Yann Hnautra and Chau Belle outside of the physical experience.

One of the concept that stuck in my mind is the difference between being a student and being a person who learns. In my opinion, it is very important to understand the difference between those attitudes. It is something that applies in every field (aka life). Let's try to make it clearer.

Student is someone who follows the instructions of his teacher usually limiting his experience to them. As students we look for solutions, instructions and efficiency, we strive for answering questions of others. The word student makes me thinking of academic environment. I've been a student for most of my life, following teachers instructions, getting marks and collecting pieces of papers.

Learner is someone who finds the "knowledge" in the experience often with limited instructions. As learners we look for principles, ideas and creativity, we curiously question previous answers. I see learners in babies and toddlers. They are like street rats, they try and speculate without assumptions and achieve upon real life experience.

There may be space and time for both these attitudes. We probably alternate from one to another all the time. That said, I think that we can make a conscious decision and pick which one works better for us in a given situation. It may also be that one can help improving the other. Think of someone who live very much "by the book" and doesn't allow any free exploration, or someone who needs to be a bit more grounded.

I wonder if the contemporary society and the main education system that has shaped it, has been too worry about numbers, effectiveness and grades to achieve instead of creating curious and creative people. People who question, want to try, explore, get lost, make mistakes and eagerly learn instead of instruction's followers and numbers seekers.

It's never too late to become a better learner!


"The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting."

- Plutarc, AD 46 - AD 120

David Warlik, Education Technologist, Oct 2010 Are they Students or are they Learners?

Eddy Zhong, TEDxYouth@BeaconStreet, Feb 2015 How School Makes Kids Less Intelligent

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