learning with, or without a goal LO28890

From: Terje A. Tonsberg (tatonsberg@hotmail.com)
Date: 07/24/02

Replying to LO28885 --

At said:

> I learn the vocabulary of a langauge by reading texts in that language.
> As soon as i come to a word which i do not know, i will look up its
> meaning in a dictionary. My dictionaries have the most wear and tear
> of all my books.

My comment:
This would be digestive learning by default right?

At said:
> As for writing in English itself, i have this curious awareness that i
> stumble on some tacit knowing. I will write several sentences, knowing
> exactly what i want to do. Then suddenly i reach a sentence giving me
> the "goose flesh" while writing it. As i jot the words down, i know that
> at some point in that sentence i will not know the word which i need.
> Coming to that point, i have to rethink the whole paragraph again in
> Afrikaans. I will usually find a word,

My comment:
If you do then I presume you would label this emergent learning?

At said: but if not, ....Then comes the hunt for the word
> expressing precisely what i had in mind. I look for synonyms and study
> the meaning of each. Invariably my vocabulary increases by doing so.
> Eventually i have to settle for the best word.

My comment:
.. and this would also be digestive I presume?

At said:
> The study of the eytmology of words (English and German) have
> become very important to me to understand the present meaning of a
> word and thus to remember it. It is the same as knowing the botanical
> names of thousands of succulent plants.

My comment:
This would also be digestive right?

At said:
Teaching as
> the imput and learning as the output just did not match as all these
> books suggested it would.

My comment:
I guess it depends on how one defines teaching... What IS the input?

At said:

I soon began, for their benefit,
> transform each learning event (the first loop of double loop learning)
> into a teaching event (the second loop of double loop learning). I
> became fluent in doing it. So when I began working at the university,
> I tried to do the same with university students. I had to alter my
> strategy somewhat because they had no teaching experience. But in
> the main aspect it stayed the same -- teach yourself how to learn by
> studying your own learning.

Years ago I read Covey's "7 habits" in which he said: when you learn,
don't put yourself in the mindframe of learning, but instead put in you
mind that you are going to teach the material. This mad a powerful
impression on me. This brings us back to the point that learning is the
process that produces knowledge. What better way of learning then than to
teach or do instructional design? Is this what you have in mind? Is this
the essense of "learning design"?

At said:
> I will always think of Skinner as someone very sensitive to the
> essentiality liveness ("becoming-being").
> But you mention another thing which goes deeply to the heart of
> learning, namely "cultish thinking and strawman exchanges". It is not
> peculiar to Skinner because of his personality. It is something which
> occurs in every branch of academy known as a "school of thought".

My comment:
I agree, it certainly isn't, but in this case it didn't help. He always
refused to reply to critics for example, simply ignoring them as "not
getting it." A famous example is Chomsky, who made a fair amount of
sweeping remarks in his dismissal of "Verbal Behavior."

This kind of attitude continues to amaze me. It always consists of taking
the counterparties views or words to ridiculous extremes, ignoring
conflicting evidence etc. Even in something as trivial as muscular
physiology I have seen "scientist" get pretty fanatical about what the
right exercise protocol would be (e.g. one set of repetitions vs. several
of one exercise.) To the extent that they literally wish each other dead!

At said:

> (By the way, this is something which I first learned in mathematics
> at university. But nobody told me that the Arabs were the first to
> discover this important distinction.)

My comment:

You are referring to what I mentioned earlier regarding al-Ghazali?

At said:
> I am beginning to wonder whether its is not liveness ("becoming
> -being") which played the key role here, and not sureness or
> fruitfulness. It often happened to me that i got stuck in complex
> structures. But by moving my eyes form part to part in such a
> structure and keep on doing it, I began to perceive a movie
> leading to that picture. Usually i will then have this "popped"
> experience of yours.

Yes, I think it is liveness, that led to fruitfulness then sureness. I now
have a much clearer understanding of how liveness is related to movies. I
think I also understand better now why you say Skinner was so aware of
liveness. Perhaps another aspect of liveness can be labeled
looking-seeing. Perhaps this is part of the secret in the intelligent use
of drills; ones tacit knowledge is "filming."

At said:
> Likewise I have observed too many "learning injuries" when a
> monotonous repetition of a mental skill is practised. This usually
> leads to a Mental Model on that skill, preventing its subsequent
> use in a more complex skill. That is why I always will suggest
> employing as much of the 7Es as possible when practising a skill
> for better performance. The reduction of "learning injuries" is a
> great benefit, apart from reducing the time needed to reach a certain
> level of performance.

My comment:

I agree, and I think those who deal with Precision Teaching have a good
understanding of this. That is why they use short drills, focus on
accelarating performance, and use a high level of variety in what they
drill in. It was this mixing of short drills that led them to discover
that complex skills emerged almost effortlessly when many smaller skills
were drilled to high fluency (such as correct answers per minute in one
minute sessions.)

At said:
> OK, now i am with you. As for myself, i am too much aware that
> my own passions are derived from my mental emergences. Perhaps
> I have been too deeply entrenched in the physical sciences in which
> the distinction between structures and processes has become vital
> to understand them. This implicit liveness ("becoming"=processes
> -- "being"=structures) may make it difficult for me to understand
> how important fluency is in understanding other subjects.

Perhaps fluency is best looked at as a necessary condition, but I don't
think it is a necessary condition for every knowledge or skill in itself.
It is rather a necessary condition of component skills. Without me knowing
much about chemistry, I suspect fluency is important in something like
knowing the essentials characteristics of the basic compounds and the use
of symbols. Moreover, such fluency can be achieved simply by practice and
not necessarily by a method like Precision Teaching. Precision Teaching
(PT) is a great way to achieve it though because of the great focus it
provides and its emphasis on continuous acceleration in performance and
analysis of it. PT can help one quickly into the phase of novel problem
solving, the natural source of passion.

At said:
> One thing which excited me very much in your descriptions, is the
> stress on the passion for learning. Whereas the 7Es are the sufficiency
> conditions for learning, this passion is one of the necessary conditions.
> To deny a person's emergent learning is to strangle that person's
> passion resulting from it. This is the tragic outcome of rote learning.

My comment:

Yes. I like PT because by measuring, the emphasis on acceleration, variety
in drills, making the purpose of drills clear, briefness of drills and
letting learners handle their own charting of progress as well as the
analysis of it, it actually helps to bring passion into drills. It is nice
to see ones performance improve and to compete with oneself.



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

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