Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Effective Learning: What I Saw Is Still What I Want - Intelligent, Smart, Learner-Centered Education

Seven years ago in Bangkok, during my participation at an international workshop on improving training quality, organized by the World Bank Institute, I hand-wrote the following:

"We are light-years away from what I would call effective training or education."

Photo credit: Jacob Wackerhousen

I had just been out of a series of primitive, boring lectures given by a few of the resource coaches we had been assigned to. The fact that this was a workshop on improving training quality and that we had been formerly lectured on key traits of effective lecturing and presenting, made these conservative one-way lectures all the more unbearable and frustrating.

Nonetheless I was shown all of the great principles of effective training, those very gurus that had introduced those concepts seemed to easily falter at maintaining a consistent trajectory when confronted with the more standard needs of presenting and introducing less important topics.

The contrast between the theory and the practice, was so sharp, that it was one of the most disappointing learning experiences of my life. But the fact that those very "guides" could not "see", "feel" and "understand" how ineffective and artificial their efforts were, made me also realize how truly difficult and challenging the path to create effective learning really is.

Without yet a blog, or a newsletter in which to express my ideas and discontent, I jotted down some short hand notes, hot on the disappointment that those feelings had generated that day on the AIT campus.



Photo credit: Norma Cornes

"This is boring, slow, un-technological, un-customized, un-refreshing, shallow lecturing, with no fun or gain on either side.

Let's create, think-up, invent ways of educating others where people can discover, contextually and synergistically all they want to learn or know when they want to. Not when someone else wants them to.

Let teachers evolve into their guiding angels, invisibly sustaining their serendipitous paths, protecting their safety and illuminating their many possible learning destinations.

Let's have a process where people can do this at their own pace and time, stopping and resting anytime they like, bound only to reach a goal they have personally defined and set.

Let's stop caging people to chairs and walled room-boxes for hours and hours hoping that this will allow them to "learn" better what they could in fact research, study, test and comprehend in whichever settings they feel most comfortable with.

Let's allow individuals to take on these learning paths in small teams, where they can both enjoy collaborating and cooperating together with others as well as engage in some solitary explorations.

"Knowledge" must be gained by doing. Experience is, when we use it, our "master" teacher.

Curiosity, persistence and focus are the best ingredients to be able to access more and more of that knowledge.

Let's create learning environments, simulated and real, where people can play, exchange ideas, experiment and focus on both general issues as well as on very specific matters.

The outcome of this process must be the ability to learn how to learn, to think differently, to view critically other work and statements, to be curious enough to pose difficult questions and look beyond the apparent surface.

This imaginary Knowledgeland I have pictured in my mind, is a place where discovery, play, research, collaboration and cooperation are always in perfect equilibrium and osmosis.

Photo credit: Podius

This is where I think learning research should be headed:"

To free individuals from this highly primitive, unefficient construct of our present civilization (educational institutions), which has completely forgotten how true learning takes place.

True learning must be the result of inquiry, interest and wonder. Not the output of compulsory memorization of pre-planned sets of information bits.

Our present-day educational institutions and whoever supports them are responsible for numbing our best and youngest brains to conformism by having them memorize and mistake for reality a pre-defined set of rules and descriptions set before it by unchallengeable "others".

Think again.

Recommended related article:
The Invisible Perfect Loop

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posted by Robin Good on Saturday, July 29 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.




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