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Posts Tagged ‘learning

I created this image quote in 2015 after reading a variant of the words attributed to George Bernard Shaw.

We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.

But with every axiom comes exceptions.

Video source

According to the research cited in this video, age is a factor at the highest levels of video gaming.

However, this does not invalidate the principle that we do not have to outgrow curiosity, a sense of fun, or risk-taking. Older gamers also learn to metagame — they devise strategies to compensate for split second slowness.

This was a tweeted question.

This was my short response.

This is my longer explanation and reflection.

Trying to define “personalised learning” is like trying to nail jelly to a wall. It will not stick. It is also futile to think that you can find just one answer or get to the root of what is a mycelial or rhizomal concept.

What looks like a single opening on the surface, a figurative rabbit hole, soon becomes an underground maze with options at every turn.

I could say the same for blended learning or e-learning. Ask ten different experts and you will get ten different answers.

Attempts to distill or simplify personalised, blended, or e-learning are noble gestures because they seek to establish start points. The problem is if such simplifications actually serve as end points.

There is much history and nuance in processes of teaching and learning. It is tempting to conceptualise in order to contain the apparent chaos. The temptation is worth the risk if the learner seeks more than just a superficial lick. The greater likelihood is that the learner eschews nuance and details for quick shortcuts.

Recently someone remarked how her students referred to some food as “Muslim desserts”. I chortled because someone else I know noticed a sign above a local food stall that declared “Muslim food” and he said, “Food cannot be Muslim. Only people can be Muslim.”

That person was someone I befriended almost 20 years ago in the US. I was hosting him on a visit that naturally included a local lunch. The error of the sign was clear to him.

People who grow up here might not even have noticed the mistake or the clumsy humour of “Muslim food”. That is why kids still think of dessert as Muslim.

This happens because we are too close to something to see the issue or problem. It takes an outsider or someone who seems unfamiliar with the context to actually point out the error.

Being the stranger, and not being too comfortable with what is around you, can be a strength instead of a weakness. Such fresh eyes are borne of a learner mindset.

My initial reaction to the suggestion to use “discs or thumb drives” to somehow deliver expert instruction was: How quaintly 20th century.

After reading the whole article, I found false premise of the assumption — doing this would ensure “all students are taught through the same standards”.

A standard delivery — still old-fashioned despite the 20th century references — does not ensure standard reception and use. Learners are different.

Teaching is neat while learning is messy. You cannot use a standard approach for a non-standard issue.

Teaching is neat. Learning is messy.

Indeed. Change is the end result of all true learning.

If there is no change in the belief, attitude, or behaviour of a person, there is no learning, no matter what a score or a diploma might say.

Such change is not only measured on a test. It might even be next to impossible for this to be a result of a test. You need long term observation, reflection, and curation and evaluation of artefacts of learning.

I sum up the already short tweet above with this: To teach is to learn twice.

To teach is the learn twice.

With enough reflective experience and well-grounded theory, it is easy to understand why teachers might become content experts. They are constantly performing retrieval practice and so they get better at learning the content.

Educators who have caught on to this by being well-read apply this in their classrooms and courses — they get learners to teach one another. This can happen in pairs or in small groups, take the form of short instructional videos, or any method that requires students to first internalise (consume) content and then externalise (express) it.

As learners do this, they will experience what all teachers do. They will struggle with explaining or communicating aspects of content. They then revisit or relook sources of information or clarify with their peers. This is a natural and authentic way of learning.

Students are not teachers. They do not have the experience or the education that teachers might have received about pedagogy. However, this should not stop them from doing what works, i.e., retrieval practice.

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) declared that Learning is a Learned Behavior. It is not wrong, but it is not completely right either.

We do need to learn how to learn. This is because we might forget how we learnt before, are taught in school to “learn” a certain way, and we need to adapt to new circumstances.

But the HBR makes a vague declaration that “learners are made, not born” and prefaces that phrase with a “growing body of research”. That research seems focused on adult learning and casually ignores child cognitive development studies. If you dive into the latter, you might learn that we are born as learning machines and we get more sophisticated as we grow.

The author has the right to focus on adult learning, but should make that clear at the onset. Learning is not only learnt, it is also innate.

Ignoring the latter capacity in children and adults is to offer an incomplete and inaccurate picture. This, in turn, leads to an interventionist bias, i.e., what must I do to you because you cannot help yourself?

If we realise that the capacity to learn is also innate, we take an observer’s perspective, i.e., how you do already learn and what can we do to help you do more?

Therein lies a “secret”: Educators know that they cannot think of themselves only as planners of lessons and vessels of content. They must also be designers of learning environments and opportunities.

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