learning with, or without a goal LO28780

From: Minnigh (minnigh@dds.nl)
Date: 07/04/02

Replying to LO28767 --

Dear Alfred, dear learners,

Thank you Alfred for the enrichment of the subject.

The more I read the replies I have received on my original contribution,
the more I realise how loosely I have formulated my thoughts. But this
sloppy formulation has resulted in fantastic replies. And these replies
have made my original thoughts on this subject somewhat disappear in damp.

What I could remember from my original thoughts is the following picture.
I saw children sitting in the school class and I saw myself sitting in a
class room. The environment where learning should happen. And then I saw
children sitting there while the teacher standing in front of the
classroom. The teacher concentrated on the things s/he wanted to teach,
the children concentrated on their drawings, own dreams or the whispered
story of their neighbour friend. Perhaps only two or three kids from the
30 were listening what the teacher told, because these three kids wanted
to know more of that subject, which they loved and which they wanted to
know more about.

In other words it was that inner wanting that lead them on the winding
path of learning. For those who lack this inner wanting the lessons were a
complete waste of time.

I had also other pictures in my mind. It was the child at home, playing
with toys, or turning over the leaves of a book. I remember myself in such
situation; I think I was at the age of 8. I developed the plan to make a
slide projector. A special projector to show stellar constellations. So an
empty cigarbox of my father served as body for the projector, a torch lamp
was the light source. Square cutted pieces of white carton were the slides
and with a glowing needle (heated on the gas-cooker) I burned small holes
in the carton. A book with lots of constellations was for me the
information source. And so a collection of some 60 constellations were
made. In a darkened room I could project the pictures on a white wall. It
was a great learning experience, because I wanted to make and wanted to
know more about stars.

Later in age lots of friends had 50cc motorcycles. They were masters in
speed enhancement and knew every part of the small motor. These boys knew
better the mechanisms and processes of an explosion motor then anyone
else; without a teacher. It was because they wanted to know.

Alfred, this were the pictures.

Now, looking back to my contribution, I think that I just touched possibly
in a different way, the bad sides of rote learning and the good sides of
authentic learning. Issues that have been discussed here so often.

And now you have mentioned the digestive phase of learning and the stages
of bifurcative learning:

> I have experienced the difference between the bifurcative stages and
> digestive stages of learning. I belief that the bifurcative and digestive
> stages of learning is the context for the important question you pose
> regarding learning with or without a goal. At the bifurcative stage of
> learning the outcome cannot be predicted. Learning without a "goal" is
> very real at the bifurcative stage.
> During the digestive stage of learning the goal becomes clearer and I
> believe it is important to start to articulate the new order.

You pointed to an important aspect.

And after reading this paragraph, I realised again that the word *goal* is
not well chosen, as At conclude already at a much earlier stage. If going
back to the authentic learning kids, it is superficially clear that they
had some sort of goal. However, to articulate this goal, and even more
acurate - if the kid was invited to articulate his/her learning goal, I
think that the answers are away from what finally is reached ofter the
learning. So the word *goal* suggests something fairly precise, a focal
point, but in reality it is not more than a direction were the outcome is
not clear at the start.

Like the search of Livingstone for the source of the Nile. His wandering
paths through 'dark' Africa could serve as analogue for the wandering
paths of the mind, during learning. Whether the source of the Nile was
found, the goal reached, is not so important.

And that brings me to the distinction of digestive learning and
bifurcative learning. It is an intriguing distinction. From the standpoint
of the teacher, this distinction seems clear to us. But from the position
of the learner, I have much more difficulties. I think that every learning
path starts with information consumption and inner digestion. But this
phase of which the length of time is variable transfers into a bifurcation
- the Steigerung. I agree with you that the outcome of this bifurcation is
unknown at the start of the learning process. Of course, because if
predictable, no inventions are possible. So a pre-defined goal which is
similar to the outcome cannot be given.

Something to think of when 'defining' learning goals in an educational

Thank you Alfred, and others for a new period of digestion.

Leo Minnigh


Minnigh <minnigh@dds.nl>

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