The Self Experiment: Part 2, the first observation.
I know I said the 18th for the next part but this is an experiment and so by the nature of such things there are going to be developments!
Just how many times does this happen? You are sitting in a restaurant and have spent 10 minutes reviewing the menu and made your choice and then you see something out of the corner of your eye arrive at another table that looks really appetising. You then start to review your choice. You have in effect become distracted and started down the path of choice once again. I mention this because this is exactly what has happened in this e-learning experiment so I need to tell you about it.
There I was working slowly through the pages of the book I mentioned and my mind had spotted something, an idea had occurred to me. It appears we are programmed to do this, it is the reason our brains are larger than they need to be to control our bodies and basic survival functions. The human child has a longer period of development and hence learning than any other animal. It is suggested we learn by observing and so we need to observe. If we are not engaged in observing we may lose an element of functionality of the brain. I am aware I am simplifying the biology here but the observation I wish to make follows.
Since this experiment is about sharing my learning journey I need to observe and be aware of my own learning impulses and instincts in order to report them. I have never looked at my learning like this before. I am aware of and have used ‘Learning Styles’ and more lately developed an approach based on meeting ‘Learning Needs‘ which I consider the better route. This however this ‘observation’ is a fundamental need to which I appear to respond, almost instinctively, without recognising it. You may say I am naturally curious and that is probably a good way of putting it. Here is the issue though. Do we allow learners to be naturally curious, time to observe, or do we expect them to process what we teach as if following some timetable. We tell them what is on the menu, choose for them and then expect them to wait until it arrives. Further, we complain if they are distracted by what they see around them and ask them to focus on what is being learnt. Are we not just disabling their learning at the same time as expecting them to learn?
The answer to the last question from a personal perspective is ‘Yes’. Although I just picked up this book and started reading it I began to make observations, I began to make links with past experiences, I began to form theories and ideas and I need time ‘off task’ to explore some of these before re-engaging. This is a natural learning process I follow and the more I think about it the more I realise I need to learn this way. What does this mean for teachers and teaching?
I will leave you to think about that question and I will try to return to my reading.