5 Principles of Learning

There are five core principles of human learning captured in the widely quoted verse from Mishlei (Proverbs): “Educate the child according to his way: even as he grows old he will not depart from it.” (22:6).

Learning is individualized.  Educational expectations must be appropriate to a particular child at a particular point in development. The verse states “according to his way” — not according to the best way.

Learning is goal-oriented.  While education must be appropriate to the individual learner, “according to his way” implies a “true way”, a level beyond where the child is now.  Learning always has a higher purpose.

Individualized learning leads to success.  The entire verse indicates that reaching educational goals (principle #2) is possible only when expectations leading to that goal are appropriate to the individual (principle #1).

Learning is ongoing.  Growth is a lifelong endeavor as the verse states “even as he grows old”.

Learning is cumulative.  What a child learns early on impacts his future development, as the verse states “even as he grows old he will not depart from it”.

From this verse we may conclude that every educator has a responsibility to understand both (a) the unique potential of a child and (b) the current educational “place” of the child.  Growth is defined not only by reaching goals but also by movement toward goals.