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Our Definition of Learning

Learning is a dynamic process which results in the sustained and demonstrable acquisition, consolidation and evolution of knowledge, concepts, skills and dispositinos with the ultimate result of learner understanding.


Our Definition in Action:

We recognize that learning occurs through both the formal classroom curriculum as well as through the wider co-curricular and community life of the school.  As such, NIS recognizes that - along with student well-being - all programs, policies, practices, and initiatives need to be both planned for, and evaluated with, the principles of student learning at the center.

Specifically, NIS recognizes that our brains learn skills, concepts, knowledge and dispositions differently. As such, the formal and informal curriculum will be reflective of the different ways in which concept, skills, knowledge and dispositions are learned as follows:


The learning of knowledge is happening when learners are:

  • Selecting the information that needs to be committed to memory;
  • Storing that information in memory;
  • Retrieving that information when appropriate and necessary.



The learning of concepts is happening when learners are:

  • connecting new knowledge to prior understanding and to important concepts;
  • constructing theories of how things work and why things are the way they are;
  • testing their theories in different contexts in order to refine them so they have more explanatory power to see when, where, and how they apply.



The learning of skills is happening when learners are:

  • deconstructing expert performance and comparing it with their own;
  • identifying the adjustments needed in order to improve;
  • practicing in order to refine the skill and so enable their performance or execution of the skill to become increasingly automatic.



The learning of dispositions is happening when learners are:

  • Identifying the skills which are the essential building blocks of the disposition;
  • Developing competency in enacting the skills relevant to a given disposition (learned as described in ‘skills’ learning, above);
  • Developing the sensitivity of when it is appropriate to use those skills to enact the disposition;
  • Developing the inclination to use those skills at the right time and place in order to enact the disposition;
  • Reflecting on the effects of these actions, owning responsibility for consequences, and committing to future growth. 

Our Learning Principles:

Learning is happening when:

  1. Learners are experiencing a ‘good struggle’ inside their zone of proximal development;
  2. Learners are operating in contexts that are as real and authentic as possible;
  3. The learning process is rich in feedback loops which develops learners’ ownership, autonomy and capacity in their learning;
  4. What we are learning, how we are learning, and how we are demonstrating that learning is co-constructed between the teacher and learner in order to maximize relevance, engagement, ownership and effectiveness;
  5. We recognize that learners have emotions, and that these emotions impact our learning.