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  • Writer's pictureIan Gibbs

My son did it and I’m proud of him.

I finally succumbed to my children’s pleadings and gave them a phone each, but, much to their disapproval, with parental control.

This was as new a process as much to me as it is to them.

Now, to get to the point, we had a problem. My son wanted to download an app but he needed my authorisation. Unfortunately, for some reason, the message asking for my authorisation from my phone wasn’t appearing on my screen.

We were frustratingly stuck.

Neither of us knew how to fix the problem.

And I felt he had installed enough games already.

So that was where we left it.

However, within 30 minutes, my son was back.

He’d texted a friend who knew how to solve the problem and 5 mins after that, he was happily playing yet another new game.

The salient point here is that this is a nice example of peer learning.

He took the initiative, asked for help and learnt something new.

As you might guess, peer learning is where we learn directly from our friends, family and colleagues.

We do it a lot.

It’s easy and effective.

The only problem is that it’s not a method of learning overtly cultivated in schools.

Think about it.

If you didn’t know the answer and asked a friend, you were labelled as a copycat or a lazy pupil.

This is a pity because peer learning started a long, long time ago, hundreds of thousands of years before instructional learning did.

It fundamental.

Yet some people still have a stigma about asking for help.

This is because they think…

  • They’re being a nuisance

  • They’re showing their ignorance

  • They’re too proud to ask for help

  • They think it’s wrong

  • They think it’s cheating

Peer learning is a natural way of acquiring knowledge.

That’s why it’s one of the skills we cultivate when I help set up Learning Clubs.

We often underestimate our own knowledge base and that of others, too, and that makes it an under-utilised resource.

So how about a quick evaluation?

From 0 to 10, how would you rate your ability to yelp for help?

If it’s not a 10, what’s stopping you and what would you have to do to change that?

And if you don’t know the answer... well... why not ask someone?

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