Saturday, February 17, 2007

it isn't immediately obvious

Marvin Minsky said the trick is that there is no trick. "There is no single secret, magic trick to learning; we simply have to learn a large society of different ways to learn". So we need to study a wide variety of learning theories to learn about the wide variety of tricks that different people use to learn. It's a lot of work and takes some time. Much (all?) of this is contextual as represented in theories like multiple intelligences or experiences of teaching ADHD or Asperger's syndrome students. What works for one may not work for another. There is no general theory of learning just as there is no general theory of intelligence. Logical abstraction is a useful but limited tool. So, because learning theories are fuzzy, slippable, embodied and situated things and not sharp, hard edged purely logical things they do require a lot of study to understand them. It doesn't begin or end with study of learning theory. There is philosophy, history, evolution, artificial intelligence, neuroscience and more.

It's not always immediately obvious how these complicated ideas do impact on ourselves and our students at the nitty gritty day to day level. For some of the time we are flying blind and the theory can muddle your mind. But eventually the study and self learning does impact and sometimes in deep but again, hard to explain, ways. A good learner / teacher needs lots of tricks not just a few tricks. Because the trick is that there is no single trick.

What are the benefits? We improve on our currently limited or poorly understood (and sometimes harmful) ideas of what it might mean to achieve a fuller, richer human potential for both ourselves and others. We expand our curiosity with each new learning quirk we discover, in ourselves and others. We improve our sense of confidence and control over what is happening in our lives.

Study of learning theory authors the sort of person you become

I've added the above to the home page of the learning evolves wiki

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