learning with, or without a goal LO28789

From: Terje A. Tonsberg (tatonsberg@hotmail.com)
Date: 07/06/02

Replying to LO28780 --

Leo and others,

Leo Minnigh said:

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.

> 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.

My comment:

I am heading out on a tangent to speak of passion in a piecemeal manner

Having grown up in rural Norway, where mopeds and later cars are the great
passion of a great amount of kids from the lower middle class and below, I
can certainly relate to all of your stories. The problem of course, is
that passion driven learning is so often in imbalance with spareness and
sureness, in other words, not everybody can make a living as a mechanic or
the like. Also, even if you want to become an engineer of these machines,
you'd better go and do your math homework (sureness).

How does one direct passion to be in balance with spareness?

I don't have a good anwer to that one, but I do have something I believe
is part of the answer. One is that pre-university school curriculum should
be much more limited and much more intensive. It should be much more
intensive in two subjects: Language (1) and Math. These two languages are
the tools of formal knowledge and fluency in them is very important to
digestive and emergent learning. In addition to the above I am tempted to
add: concept mapping (graphic communication) and English at an advanced
age. Other subjects can be tied into these, but the main objective should
be the improvement of these two along with learning to learn (part of
which would be to bring passion into learning the two subjects). The
reason is simple:

How much do you remember of what you were taught in geography, history etc.
(unless you review this later of course)?
What are the subjects that you did not forget and you continued to need
almost no matter what you chose to do later?

The problem with math and language is that there is a great need for
drills (sureness), so how does one bring passion into drills?

Motivation, it strikes me comes either from the learning itself or from an
external source such as "if you know this math well, then you can become
an engineer later and make all sorts of money." The latter is a poor
source of motivation, because it carries a great deal of uncertainty and
is often in a distant future. It also has an implied threat and thus a
feeling of coercion attached to it.

One way is to apply rewards, punishments and reiforcements that are more
certain and closer in time. This is what is done by teachers and engaged
parents. A better way is to apply constant measurement, to make goals and
progress towards them clear. It is natural to want to improve. Improvement
is a source of motivation in itself, and it does not need much external
support; it is thus much closer to passion. The problem with drills is
that they become gruelling, without a clear purpose or even a clear state.
Wouldn't drilling be more engaging if one could see changes from day to
day? Perhaps this is part of the power of Precision Teaching, where drills
are short, timed and measured for speed and accuracy minute by minute. It
is a solution to the need for passion on the one hand and the need for
drill on the other.

Leo said:

 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.

My comment:

Yes, but I think it is important to keep in mind that the outcome of the
bifurcation is not necessarily an innovation, but may be something new to
the learner only. This means that goals for emergent learning can be given
a fair amount of precision where we are not talking about an actual
invention. On the other hand, if the goal is an invention, one needs a
much looser goal, and the focus should be on how to achieve fruitfulness
(usually) with regard to a need of some sort. Learning without a goal
would be when one discovers something by chance and realizes its
importance (fruitfulness.)



"Terje A. Tonsberg" <tatonsberg@hotmail.com>

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