Learning How To… Learn More

Jeff Cohen
May 24, 2014 · 2 min read

When I teach, my only goal is for my students to become self-sufficient.


I know that most students, at the beginning, consider me to be the fount of all knowledge and wisdom.

My dream is that by the end, they have learned so much, gained so much self-confidence, and expanded their capacity to learn by such a fantastic extent, they are glad to get rid of me.

Self-obsolescence drives all of my decisions and actions. When I need a litmus test to decide whether or not a particular lecture, homework assignment, or lab session is necessary, I always test it against my prime directive. Will it propel students toward self-sufficiency?

My courses are designed to guide each student, one step at a time, toward this mountain-top moment. Everything is geared so that the student can continue their learning after their brief time with me is over.

It is for this reason that facts hold little value in my class.

Our school system has conditioned students to want to memorize facts, and it’s important for me not to feed that habit. Facts and trivia are easily retrieved from a Google search these days. What I guide them toward is the learning process. It’s much better for students to grasp the thinking paradigms that are core to developing solid computational skills.

Technology itself constantly changes. One programming language will not provide skills that last. Neither will two. Nor five.

Learning how to solve problems; how to troubleshoot; how to read technical specifications; how to use both inductive and deductive reasoning; how to gainfully read online articles and tutorials — these are the skills that never get old. These are the things that support our learning wormhole, bringing students closer to the dreams they have, so they can achieve their goals, for which they came to me in the first place.

    Jeff Cohen

    Written by

    I ponder all things education, technology, and music. I teach at GoLearnToCode.com, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and StarterSchool.

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