Reasons for Learning LO30729

Date: 10/21/03

Replying to LO30720 --

Greetings to all.

At de Lange wrote:

> I first thought whether reason, motivation and purpose depicts
> one and the same thing -- to trigger and sustain the act of
> learning. Perhaps i am dull today, but i cannot think of any
> difference between them when applied to learning. They tell me
> that learning seems to be teleological, i.e, it is concerned
> with some outcome in the future rather than some cause in the
> past. Yet i perceive a cause, namely that knowledge of the person
> gained in the past. It is from this INCOMPLETE knowledge that the
> reason(s) follows. I cannot even imagine how any reason can follow
> from ignorance.

I agree that learning needs to be addressed or viewed in the future
tense rather than the past. I am not sure that all learning,
though, is in response to an overt need.

We each accumulate knowledge and information (to me these are the
same thing for the purposes of this comment) throughout our lives.
We accumulate this resource through our life's experiences and
teachings. All of this "stuff" goes into our memories to be
recalled at some later time. The first time much of this stuff is
recalled is during tests of specific material. After that we often
don't think much about any specific item of information or

> Your quote refers to a need, in other words, a shortage of some kind.
> Are need/shortages the only reason (the WHY) for learning? Let us
> look at a number of possible reasons:-

Later in life we may have need to access any or all of what is
contained in our mental repository to deal with situations that
arise. While this may be categorized as a need, it is somehow
different from the more overt needs that you suggested. It is more
of a generalized need or contingency.

As an example, my brother is a hairdresser. Not being in that
business, I know little to nothing about what exactly he does except
what I have seen in beauty shops when there with my wife or when
getting my hair cut (mostly little pieces of foil and hair dryers).
He is in town for a visit and he takes time to cut each female
family member's hair. I watch once as he brushes my daughter's hair
and puts it into a french braid. I had no reason beyond simple
curiosity to watch this procedure, but I did watch it.

Some years later my daughter sits down in front of me and ask me to
play with her hair. I brushed it out and performed the french braid
procedure, producing something similar to what I had intended.
While my technique was not as good or fluid as my brother's, I still
learned how to create a french braid from witching him some years
before. I learned this not in response to a specific need or a
desire to better myself, I learned it from simply being there at
that time.

Perhaps this means that the actual learning did not take place until
that later time when I had to access and apply the knowledge and
information that was stored in my memory.

I think that this provides a basis for primary and continued
education in our society. We need to acquire general knowledge and
information in order to have it available to us at a later time as a
general contingency.

I just listened to a man who is home schooling his child tell him,
and my daughter, that much of what is taught and required during
elementary school through high school (Gymnasium, in many countries)
is useless with no application in later life. The specific
information he used as an example was knowledge of how a plant cell
is constructed and how it works with other cells to produce
photosynthesis. I was appalled by this statement. Yet, it reflects
the views of so many people. It is hard to explain how the
understanding of algebraic problem solving methods and techniques
translates into a general philosophical ability to solve non-math
problems later in life.

I recently watched a television show on which a character said
something that struck me as interesting. This character said that
there are three stages to development or maturity.

1. When you learn or understand how much you don't know.

2. When you acquire the knowledge or information to fill that gap.

3. When you are unaware that you know something.

The part I am talking about falls into this last area.

Best to all.

Clyde Howell



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