Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Capacity is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot in education, but what does it really mean when it comes to good teaching, good learning, and good living?

What is capacity and why is it important?

Dictionary definitions point to capacity as how much you can contain and how much you can produce. 

The word, capacity, came to mind today as I recognized that I suddenly had increased capacity to be who I want to be and to give in ways that I want to give. This felt great. Earlier in the summer, my capacity to be that person or to give was greatly dimished. I recognized this powerful shift, and wondered about how we might reflect on this word in order to create shifts in capacity related to containing and producing in ways that uplift and elevate life for ourselves and for others.

Learning capacity
Educators desire that students learn in productive, positive ways. They want their learners to hold on to or contain good information that supports success and good living. How can reflecting on what capacity is help educators to heighten a student's capacity for good learning? What might they do?

Holistic assessment leads to increasing an individual's capacity for successful learning. Thinking about who the child is and what support their good learning and what stands in the way helps us to increase a child's capacity for learning. 

Teaching capacity
When we think about how we develop our capacity to teach well, it's important to think deeply about what enriches that capacity and what depletes that capacity. Before that question, however, you do need to define what good teaching is and what it entails--what do you need to do to teach well. Too often that question is not clearly answered by individuals or educational groups. When the question of what you need to teach well is left blurry, the objective of best possible capacity will be left unfulfilled. 

Specifically, at this time, as educators think about best teaching during a pandemic, it's important to outline what that means including areas to emphasize and areas to leave for the post-pandemic days. For example, to foster a nation of readers is one way we can empower a positive education for all during a pandemic.

Living capacity
What creates our capacity for living good lives? What can we work for so that we increase our ability to contain the energy, vision, and motivation for good living, and then use that capacity to produce actions that reflect good living? What can we do?

As with good teaching, it is important to identify what it means to live a good life. While our definitions will vary a lot, there will be some consistent themes such as good health, a comfortable home, nutritous healthy food, positive relationships, and an overall sense of well being. 

Once we've identified what matters for us, we need to make a list of life factors that contribute to our capacity for good living and life factors that detract from that capacity. Then we have to work towards building our capacity for good living. That will makes us stronger and happier.

Capacity is an awesome concept when you really stop to consider what it means. It takes complex questions and really culls them down to a manageable process and set of steps. 

I look forward to think more on this concept in the days to come. In the meantime, if you have anything to add, please do.