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Empowering Through Education by Judianne Jayme

Learning vs. performance

– determining what stronger goals are

by Judianne Jayme

As I continue to read George Couros’s work (, I am continually having light bulbs turn on left and right. A lot of the concepts he points out are obvious, yet because no one has brought them to my attention, I truly had never noticed them.

One such concept is setting learning goals with students. Some students are so focused on their performance that it actually hinders their learning. Couros illustrates with the example of learning a new language. If Student A’s goal is to get an A+ in French, this student will actually only learn what is needed to get that rank. If Student B’s goal is to be conversational in the French language, he or she will actually learn the content and skills that will most likely be applied throughout the years.

In these two examples, Student A has a performance goal – there is a clear end goal in mind. Student B, however, has a learning goal that has room to grow. After becoming conversational, he may take steps to be a better writer or reader in French, for example, until he or she can be recognized as fluent or bilingual.

The same can be said in any subject, at any level of education. Here is another example at the post-secondary level: a performance goal would be to get a degree in Education, or to get on the faculty’s Dean’s List for honour students. This person strives and still achieves, but has a definite end goal or expiry date – getting on the honours list, or receiving that degree. A learning goal would be to become an effective educator who empowers youth through student-centred learning. This person still has a specific goal for implantation, but it’s a goal that is focused on his or her learning – how to become an effective educator. This goal is not constrained to a time frame, and it will look different as this educator undertakes professional development. It is truly a goal focused on the educator’s ongoing learning, which will, in turn, increase his or her performance.

Parent tip: Learn, do not just perform!

Let me make this clear: performance in any workplace and academic setting is, of course, important. It’s important to perform well as this is how you most likely will be evaluated.

However, to truly perform well, you have to learn and understand your task, your intent, and your criteria. Ask yourself, and your child: What are you doing in this assignment? What are you learning? (This is different from doing.) Why is it important to learn this? What does that learning look like?

Learning is an ongoing goal of education, and with better learning comes better performance. Apply this idea, and I hope you and your family start seeing even better results!

Judianne Jayme is an educator teaching sixth grade and a division-wide mentor in the Winnipeg School Division.

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