P is for David Perkins: Making Learning Whole

David is a professor at Harvard. In the video above he describes the importance of enabling students to become nimble learners. They will then be more able to deal with the unknown and shape their futures.

David has since published Making Learning Whole. This outlines principles that can be used to transform education.

Below are some headlines from Ruth Walker’s excellent summary of the book. You can find her complete review via the following link.


Seven Principles For Educators

Making Learning Whole

David borrows ideas from baseball and other sports to illustrate the learning principles. Here is an introduction to the themes.

1. Play the whole game.

David says: “You don’t learn to play baseball by a year of batting practice.”

People often learn best by seeing the whole picture, then breaking this down into parts. They also like to understand the relevance of what they are learning and how it fits into the big picture.

2. Make the game worth playing.

“The learner learns what the learner wants to learn,” is an old adage in education. So it is vital to make the learning real, relevant and rewarding.

3. Work on the hard parts.

David believes it is vital to play to our strengths. But it is also important to tackle areas for improvement. He advocates doing this by following Anders Ericsson’s view of ‘deliberate practice’. This also helps to develop grit.

4. Play out of town.

Educators can encourage the learners to develop transferable skills that they can apply in different fields.

5. Play the hidden game.

David encourages educators to help learners to see patterns. They can ask students: “What do you see going on? What do you see that makes you think so?”

6. Learn from the team.

He urges people to learn from their colleagues and other examples of best practice. They can then apply the principles in their own ways to achieve results.

7. Learn the game of learning.

Educators can encourage students to take charge of their learning. They are then more likely to become proactive and develop skills for shaping their futures.

Below is a lecture that David gave at Harvard. In it he describes the history and possible future evolution of teaching thinking skills.

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