Experts on learning argue that significant learning requires that there be some kind of lasting change that is important in terms of the learner's life. Knowing facts then is only one aspect of learning. According to Dee Fink, significant learning involves a variety of other dimensions, such as application, integration, caring, and learning how to learn.

Critical Approaches to Young Adult and Children's Literature (ENSP/GETR 345) has a number of learning objectives: Some focus on tangible knowledge and skills while others are more abstract and long-term. All learning activities in the course rely and/or build upon one or more of these objectives. After looking them over, I encourage you to reflect on how these learning objectives coincide or differ from your personal goals for the course.

Caring/ Human Dimension: How can this course affect your view of yourself and the world around you?
It challenges you to:

  • investigate your relationship to your childhood;
  • recognize the value of reading in your own life and how it differs from others;
  • recognize why you prefer certain readings and how books help (or hinder) you create, affirm or challenge your understanding of and vision for your own life;
  • learn how others' perspectives differs from yours, and why, and how others' experiences can teach you about the place of your view.

Application: What skills should you acquire in this course?
Critical thinking skills
Critical thinking means "identifying and challenging assumptions and exploring alternative ways of thinking and acting." (Brookfield, 1987, 71)
In this particular course, you will have the opportunity to develop and practice critical thinking. You are asked to:

  • identify and challenge assumptions that underlie children's literature and critical texts about children and childhood;
  • identify and challenge your own assumptions and explore new ways of thinking;
  • productively engage the ideas of fellow students, helping them to evaluate their own thoughts and to develop them further.

Writing skills
Writing is both the process of doing critical thinking and the product of communicating the results of critical thinking. (Bean,1996, 3)
I strongly believe that writing is central to the process of critical thinking. The writing journal, reading responses, papers and (peer) critiques provide opportunities to practice your critical thinking skills as detailed above. They also will help you develop the competencies necessary to communicate the results of your thinking effectively, such as these:

  • defining strong thesis statements;
  • composing strong and clear arguments in support of the thesis;
  • considering challenges and counterarguments;
  • editing your paper.

Manage team projects
Most workplaces require you to work with others. In creating your team project you will have a chance to develop some important skills necessary for planning and executing a successful project including:

  • define goals;
  • recognize individual strength and talents;
  • identify resources;
  • develop project execution plan;
  • distribute work fairly;
  • co-authoring a proposal and a presentation.

Foundational Knowledge: What knowledge should you obtain in this course?
You should be able to:

  • identify basic socio-historical conditions that shape our understanding of childhood and children's literature;
  • know basic genres of children's literature and their characteristics;
  • know different approaches to literature and their limitations;
  • understand the motivation behind critical writing and academic debates;
  • understand that "the meaning" of a text is a product of personal interpretation influenced by context.

Integration: How does this course help me make connections to other courses, academic interests and aspects of my life?
It encourages you to:

  • reflect on the current attitudes to children and childhood;
  • reflect on the role of reading in our society;
  • see how children's studies draws from other disciplines (e.g. psychology, sociology, history, women's studies);
  • consider what you would want to give your child to read and why?

Learning how to learn: How can this course help me be a better learner?
It gives you an opportunity to:

  • identify and cultivate what really interests you;
  • reflect on your individual strengths and how to best work with them;
  • experience how a continuous writing practice can be fun and extremely productive;
  • see the value of other people's skills and learn how to set up a team that draws on everybody's strength.