Creating a Passion for Learning LO17427

Tadeems (
Sun, 15 Mar 1998 22:25:24 EST

Replying to LO17417 --

I've never pretended to fully grasp At's work with entropy, so many of the
discussions concerning this seem to buzz right over my head.
Nevertheless, there were some things that caught my eye in Steve's note
(by the way, Steve, who is the *us* you were referring to?).

> It might be helpful, however, to point out to you what you do when you
> come out of your system to make pronouncements about what is going on in
> the "real" world.

I'm always disturbed by statements which presume to know the truth for
others, which tend to come with a compelling need to point out an other's
error in thought or insight. At best on this list, it seems, we are but
sharing our own experience, hope, and knowledge with each other.
Generally, I think we do a terrific job of that while respecting each
others' experiences and knowledge constructions. But not always.

> First: learners can not learn by themselves. They need parents and
> teachers and colleagues. You demonstrate here that you are teaching your
> granddaughter.

I suppose on at least one level it's true that I cannot learn by myself.
Learning involves interaction--often social--and in our society that
typically takes the form of a learner and parent/teacher/collegue. But
learning also involves the process of meaning-making (e.g., how we make
sense of the world we're in), which is a far more personal construction
than what the banking metaphor of education generally supports.

If we look at learning through the lens of meaning, then it becomes
something one person does for him or herself (an expressive process),
rather than something that somebody else provides. The tragedy, of
course, lies with those educators and systems and workplaces which attempt
to impose meaning onto someone else. To say that I need an external
authority to provide knowledge (put a deposit into my mental bank) in
order for me to learn something is, in my experience, a soul-damaging
myth. Our schools and workplaces do, sadly, cultivate far too many
received knowers, unable to know their world outside of what somebody else
has told them.

While I wouldn't go so far as to say our existing systems are in some way
conspiring against human growth, I would have to agree with the idea that
they nevertheless manage to do so in many cases (passive learning still
rules). Clearly, our educational systems have played a role in making
significant civic contributions. But when I see the stat's that say,
essentially, that our educational institutions--the traditional approach
to thinking about learning and knowledge--somehow fail roughly 72% of the
population in the U.S., I have to question some of the assumptions upon
which our institutions are based. And wonder, then, at what might have
been accomplished even beyond what we have today had learning been
approached differently for all those learners. Like it or not, it
certainly seems that our major institutions are organized and conducted
for the convenience of the people in authority, rather than for the people
they were creatd to serve.

> I believe you want others to hear you, and learn from you, and would
> resent hearing a possible truth: that your response to me was a long and
> thoughtful lecture, no different in kind that what goes on in many
> schools: the attempt by the lecturer to have his auditors soak up and
> accept his teaching

Well, I suppose many of us are guilty of falling into lecture-mode at
times. That is a convenient platform. However, the fact that someone may
lecture to me has little to do with what I do or do not soak up--I am no
longer such a passive learner. I don't mind the attempts others make to
persuade me one bit, and they often serve to challenge my own assumptions
and beliefs.

Sorry this was so long-winded!


Terri A Deems

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