Guerilla Learners: Learning Outside the Box
Monday morning,the last day of the ASCD 2011 annual conference in San Francisco. I scanned my program one last time as I walked toward my chosen 8 am session when my eyes fell on a session I had had not noticed before. I quickly headed off to this new section entitled “Students as Teachers: A Discussion with Quizlet.com Creator Andrew Sutherland”. If you have read my recent post on this site you would know why I turned on my heel in pursuit of this new direction. After all, how often do you get to meet the person whose idea has helped your students be more successful learners?
As I walked into the room I had to smile. The speaker behind a long table next to a very large screen was a young man of 21years. You know those mental images of people you create? Well mine was way off. This was not some seasoned educator as I had imagined, nor was it some veteran digital world icon. No suit, no tie and surprisingly no fancy technology. What stood before me was a young man who at the age of 16 came up with a solution to a problem he had with his foreign language class…guerilla education. He seemed nervous as he gazed out over the partially filled room to begin his presentation, but soon found his stride as he began sharing his reasons for starting the e-flashcard site, Quizlet. Sutherland’s passion for learning and creative problem solving became evident as he became more acclimated to the audience and we to him. Open to questions and ideas he epitomized all that true learning should be. He is a bright spot making his own spot on the education of thousands and perhaps millions of learners of all ages.
Currently a Junior at MIT Sutherland is clearly a life long learner who hopes to use the social attributes of the Quizlet format to reach as many other learners as he can. He does this by making Quizlet free. Doing so circumvents any administrative or organizational obstacles that so often keep effective tools from students…guerilla learning. Sutherland is an example for all learners. His example beckons all of us to be passionate, think creatively, empower everyone to be guerilla learners.