Robert Talbert (Grand Valley State University) recently posted an article titled “We need to produce learners, not just students” on his Casting Out Nines blog that really resonates with me. In the article, Robert expresses what he feels is the goal of higher education and states in general terms how an educator can get on the path to achieving this goal.

There are so many wonderful nuggets in the article. Here’s one of my favorites.

I even care about this more than students’ grades. In my mind, and I think in the minds of most people who employ my students later in life, if you graduate from university and don’t have the skills or dispositions necessary to teach yourself new things for the rest of your life, it doesn’t really matter what your GPA says: You’re not educated. And if I shepherd a student through the university without putting them in a position time and again to hone these skills and dispositions, it doesn’t matter what my title or my course evaluations say: I’m not an educator.

This quote summarizes exactly why I started incorporating inquiry-based learning (IBL) into my courses. IBL is not a magic bullet, but the experiences that I have had watching students transform into independent learners is why I am so passionate about it. I want students to have life-changing experiences! Learning the content of mathematics is just a bonus.

Robert ends the article with the following statement.

But it doesn’t matter whether we use the flipped classroom, IBL, PBL, or what-have-you — what counts is whether we are training people to be able to learn on their own. Doing education without this in mind is just irresponsible.


If you haven’t already, please go read Robert’s article.

Dana C. Ernst

Mathematics & Teaching

  Northern Arizona University
  Flagstaff, AZ
  Google Scholar
  Impact Story

Current Courses

  MAT 411: Abstract Algebra
  MAT 690: Genome Combinatorics

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Land Acknowledgement

  Flagstaff and NAU sit at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, on homelands sacred to Native Americans throughout the region. The Peaks, which includes Humphreys Peak (12,633 feet), the highest point in Arizona, have religious significance to several Native American tribes. In particular, the Peaks form the Diné (Navajo) sacred mountain of the west, called Dook'o'oosłííd, which means "the summit that never melts". The Hopi name for the Peaks is Nuva'tukya'ovi, which translates to "place-of-snow-on-the-very-top". The land in the the area surrounding Flagstaff is the ancestral homeland of the Hopi, Ndee/Nnēē (Western Apache), Yavapai, A:shiwi (Zuni Pueblo), and Diné (Navajo). We honor their past, present, and future generations, who have lived here for millennia and will forever call this place home.