Is ‘learning’ a noun or a verb?

Clio et cetera

This is in some ways a pointless question as it is of course both: the OED allows us both. I do however have significant concerns over how ‘learning’ gets used as a noun in the field of education.

Where learning is used as a verb, it always shifts the focus to the object being learnt. One is always learning something and where we use ‘learning’ as a verb, we face the inexorable pull towards the very purpose of our teaching: that thing that we think it is important for children to learn.

Yet when learning is used as a noun, we lose this pull. Learning itself becomes the object. We hear people talk of ‘her learning’ as if ‘learning’ itself were some thing that had an existence of its own. More worryingly, using ‘learning’ as a noun makes it easier to have a conversation about education in which no attention…

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