learning with, or without a goal LO28840

From: Terje A. Tonsberg (tatonsberg@hotmail.com)
Date: 07/14/02

Replying to LO28820 --

Hello At and LOers,

At said:

> In this sense I would place a high premium on what is taught in
> language and mathematics and how it is taught. If it does not promote
> this dynamic relationship between "world-inside-me" and the
> "world-outside-me", do not teach it. In fact, I already feel uneasy to
> deal with two separate subjects like language and mathematics.

Let's not teach them separately, lets teach them together, showing the
bridge between them. Expressing an idea in English, then in Math and so
on. Lets call math and languages "language."

> Adding a third and fourth subject like art and designs shows to me
> that we are already on the path of fragmentation rather than wholeness
> (another one of the 7Es). This would do us no good.

Yes. I think factual systems such as history, geography, science, literary
criticism etc. should revolve around "language", and around major concepts
that bridge between them such as "how do you know that?" and "don't take
everything at face value". If one comes out of school with high fluency
and comfort in "language", then learning what one needs can be done on the
go. Particularly at the pre-professional skill stage. After all, how much
do you remember from your lessons at high school or before? I had a
perfect mark in history in my pre- university year, but despite that I can
hardly remember a thing of it, so what was the use? I am not against
memorizing facts, it is an important skill, but it shouldn't be at the
expense of wider goals and they should be tied tightly to them.

At said:

> Today I would advocate the learning of several languages and not
> merely one as of principal importance.

I think that's too much for most people though... Teaching more than one
language slows down the development of the others, which can have
dangerous motivational consequences. One needs to tread carefully on this

At said:
> To be able to follow the line of
> thinking on a topic in another language is like looking from the topic
> from a different viewpoint.

Yes. I like to put it this way: "language is the mirror of culture."

At said:
>I am able to follow its original
> text in Greek as well as its translations (various ones for each language)
> into English, Afrikaans, Dutch and German.

How does one apply the principles of emergent and digestive learning to
vocabulary? I think it is a peculiar case, because words are so many and,
unlike topics like history, they are hard to connect in a few emergent
properties. How does one "devour" vocabulary?

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

At said:
>Avoid doing the same thing over and over again. There is also a
>need for spareness, otherness, fruitfulness, wholeness, openness
>and liveness. Work all the 7Es into the exercises. It is possible
>and I have done it in my chemistry courses. Furthermore, it works
>far better that parrot drills.

Yes, that is definitely true, and if one reaches the necessary speed and
accuracy this way it is enough. Still, I think practicing facts to fluency
is key, so although drills can be a bore, one needs to make sure that one
does not throw the baby (fluency) out with the bathwater (drills.) Many
studies show the importance of having both accuracy and high rate
(fluency) in basic skills such as reading, writing and mathematical
manipulations. I think it is beneficial to have short, measured races on
basic skills and pure facts to make sure that adequate speed and accuracy
has been reached, and to eliminate fluency problems. This does not have to
be gruelling if they are short sessions (e.g.. one minute at the time is
good -- spread out in several sessions). It can actually be quite fun and
meaningful, because one is competing with oneself in terms of correct
answers (or whatever) per minute, and a learner can realize the importance
of this and have a specific goal to be reached.

Actually, lack of fluency can be a block to emergences of more complex
skills and these can be removed with specific drills on facts, as research
has shown at Morningside Academy in Seattle and other places.

Even in my own experience I have had this happen. A while ago I had to
memorize the Pearson's r formula for an exam. This was annoying to me
since it is pretty big and dry, and I was certainly not ready to delve
into the theory behind it. Based on what I knew about fluency drills, I
did short, timed drills of writing the formula, just so that I would be
ready to slap it down on paper as soon as I entered the examination hall.
Suddenly, in between drill sessions, or during one, I effortlessly
realized that the formula was basically the formula of standard deviation
written 3 times, which again lead to other emergences. After all this,
I'll be careful to dismiss the utility of such drill sessions as long as
they are individually purposeful, measured and short.

Also, from the viewpoint of passion, fluency in word recognition as an
example, promotes reading fluency and thereby understanding which again is
the key to passion. So if a few purposeful, measured and short fluency
drills can bring one to this point faster...



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

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