The best learning occurs in a stimulating, active, challenging, interesting, engaging environment. It’s how the brain works. The best learning occurs when you move at least some part of your body. The best learning occurs when you’re actively involved in co-constructing knowledge in your own head, not passively reading or listening. (Taking notes doesn’t really count as being actively involved.)
People complain that their kids can’t pay attention in school, then their kid comes home and spends two hours studying the elaborate world of Halo 2. Reading, absorbing, problem solving, using sophisticated mental maps, and on it goes.
When learning is “presented” in a push model, your brain says, “This is SO not important.” You’re in for the battle of your life when you try to compete against the brain’s natural instinct to scan for unusual, novel, possibly life-threatening or life-enhancing things.
Forcing people to sit in a chair and listen (or read) dry, formal words (with perhaps only a few token images thrown in) is the slowest, least effective, and most painful path to learning.
Yet it’s the approach you see replicated in everything from K-12, to universities, to adult/corporate training.
Go and read about the school the author’s daughter went to for the first six years of her education and you’ll see where I was at a couple of days ago. Kids need to be allowed to pursue their passions. Actually, we all do. I have a passion for blogs. Well, guess what? Blogs aren’t just technology. They’re social studies (citizenship, collaboration, politics, geography, democracy, history), art (graphic design, video, photo, music), English (writing, reading, editing, researching), technology (programming, software, peripherals), mathematics (algebra (i.e resizing), geometry, statistics), world languages, business, etc. I learn about all of those subjects in the context of my passion. Which is why I’ve said all along, this isn’t about blogging, it’s about learning.
And regarding adult learning opportunities:
One of the biggest mistakes adult learning programs and learners can make, in my opinion, is to use traditional school as the model. It doesn’t work for kids, and it doesn’t work for adults. Because it doesn’t work for the brain. I know there are enormous challenges and pressures for delivering public school learning (that so many teachers don’t have the option or power to change), but most adult education programs that follow the same poor model don’t have those excuses. In many cases, adult classroom training looks like school just because that’s how it always looks. There are a lot of interesting and wonderful exceptions in the adult learning world, of course, and a lot of novel things being done with everything from arrangement of chairs in the room to the role of the instructor as facilitator rather than “teacher”, and I’ll say more on that later.
But for the most part, we’re still using the same approach that, given the pace of information change today, is even LESS useful than it was in the past. We need a big change.
Can I get an “Amen”?
(BTW…on the tiny steps path to this more effective model, my daughter’s book is now online at Flickr. It’s a start…)
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