Learning How to Learn | Burgundy Farm Country Day School Skip to main content

You are here

Learning How to Learn

Friday, October 13, 2017
Examining a prosthetic arm
A 7th grader checking out a prosthetic arm Evan Kuester '04 designed.

Learning how to learn. At a glance, that expression can sound either interesting or like cliched 'edu-speak.' But it is actually profound! As the recent Education Week article, "Learning How to Learn Could be a Student's Most Valuable Skill," attests, becoming a good learner can be more important than native intelligence or excellence in test-taking. Information literacy, as in discerning useful information, understanding how to create a theory and test it, and learning how to 'reload' or revise when a first try -- whether in an experiment or in a piece of analytical writing -- fails, each are vitally important skills, as young people entering the workforce today can testify.

One of them recently spoke to our students.

Many of you at either Back to School Night heard me mention our somewhat renowned alum Evan Kuester '04, who's now a very successful design engineer and consultant, perhaps best known for his beautiful and functional prosthetic limbs, which he began producing (on 3D printers) when still a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Evan visited Burgundy on Wednesday for our All School Meeting, greeting all of the students and teachers and recalling fondly his Burgundy days, before giving a special hands-on presentation to our Middle Schoolers. Clearly Evan is very talented in more than one respect; however, Evan joked with students that he was not much of a math student when he was struggling through Charlene Pritzker's math classes at Burgundy. But he's grown to appreciate and incorporate math in his own work, and today he advises all sorts of math and science experts around the world on design and innovation!

One of Evan's messages concerned the high value he places on trying and failing. Failure is critical to his success. He depends on it. Evan was very clear that he learns so much from trying and failing -- that in fact this is his primary mode of learning! Evan is clear that his courage to fail and learn -- that is, to take intellectual risks -- was cultivated here at Burgundy. We hope that the Middle Schoolers were listening!  We know that they were taken with and inspired by Evan's visit and a few of his 3D designs (see more photos on Burgundy's Facebook page).

See you all tomorrow at the Burgundy Fall Fair!