Monday, December 30, 2019

New Year’s Resolution a la 1900:

Contributed by Werner Kappus, Apia, Samoa
This image was created in the year 1900 in France, showing how the author thought education would look like in the year 2000. It is part of a series of future technologies imagined, published in the form of cartoons which adorned cigaret and cigar boxes. Later, the images were available also as postcards. A full coverage of these are published here:   Enjoy! And let your imagination roam as to what kind of technologies will be doing 100 years from now …

Friday, December 20, 2019

Why put so much effort into learning?

That’s the problem:  There are individuals who don’t want to learn at all, or spend the time, or the effort to learn.  And if they absolutely have to, they’d like to do it the easy way, or the easiest way possible.  I guess that’s human nature, or at least some humans’ nature.  Yet the parents and the community are usually very anxious for their offspring getting a decent education.  In the case of grownups, also that they continue learning throughout their life, enhancing their capabilities to more fully benefit from their increased knowledge.  And deep down, even the most reluctant is then likely to undertake some effort of learning.

Therefore, IMHO, the very first task for parents, educators, and the community at large (through its representatives) is to convince everybody to get going and learn, and then keep on learning.  It’s the motivation of wanting to learn that needs to be instilled in its citizens, ALL its citizens.  That’s where many countries fall short, or are even opposed to bringing motivation to some reluctant masses.  Maybe, some day they may wake up to find that this is a duty they should be pursuing wholeheartedly.

OK.  Now when you have the subjects in the mood to put effort into learning, then, of course, that learning should be made as easy as possible, even as play rather than work.  And there are, of course, many ways which have been pursued throughout history.

Now, here is a method which was recently developed under the name “active learning” (also called “active instruction”) which, so far, consistently has produced best results. It involves chaperoning students in working  through problems and reasoning things out as an inherent part of the learning process.  That is in contrast to merely attending lectures.  Here you can learn more:

Which would be nothing new for Benjamin Franklin at his time, who said: “Tell me, and I forget.  Teach me, and I remember.  Involve me, and I learn”

Yet we are here 250+ years later, with technology on our hands which can greatly facilitate whatever learning process we are following.  For example, we can learn online instead of in classrooms, from anywhere, any time, at our convenience.  In other words, more of those learning-impeding habits and circumstances can be overcome easily, and learning can be more fun instead.  The way of getting there is what makes the difference: ONLINE.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

LEARN What, And How?

The dictionary definition of “learning” is to “gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught.”

OK.  To become a healthy, happy, useful person, there is a lot to be learned, which we normally do, one way or another, where some ways are easier than others.  

For example, if you were going to learn another language because you want to travel to that country, read its literature, talk with the people, being fluent in that language will be very useful.  It could become imperative if you wanted to take a job there or plan to live there for any length of time.

So, how do you go about acquiring that language?

Well, for most people that means going to school somewhere where they teach that language.  And then, like a toddler learning her mother’s language, slowly that language will be pounded into you in many which ways.  Depending on the proficiency of the school, over time, you’ll pick up the language, or at least a rudimentary version which will enable you to read and write, and communicate about simple things, hopefully increasing complexity and fluidity with time.

My first job in the USA was to serve as an interpreter under the U.S. State Department.  Most of my colleagues there were highly proficient and fluent in at least three languages.  And most of them were in the process of still adding another new language to their repertoire, studying in their spare time all the time.  One of the jokes making the rounds among us was that the best way to acquire another language was to get a “dictionary with ears” in that language.  In other words, get a girl- or boyfriend in that language, and then it will be easy to go on from there.

I don’t know how many took that advice (I can’t recall a single one) but rather slogged it out the conventional way.  Yet the logic is sound.  Anyone learns best on a one-to-one basis, one teacher one learner, no distraction or side-influences.  And foremost, the teacher must be an authentic and good one, like a dictionary for a language.  These are the two criteria, in my humble opinion, which the intended learner needs to get hold of first before learning can begin:
  1. A competent, well qualified, authentic knowledge source, possibly in the form of a teacher, although the source could very well be just data and historic evidence properly compiled and presented.
  2. A one-to-one teaching/learning relationship to that knowledge source.  No intermediaries in between, no diluters, distorters, politicizers.
Of course, this principle does not only apply to the learning of languages, but to ALL types of learning, be it in the fields of chemistry, astro-physics, behavioral science, what have you.

That’s all.  That, of course, is quite different from how the educational world around us is working today.   Nevertheless, there is always room for a better way.  So this is one better way:

 Authentic true knowledge source, and direct connection to it.  The will to learn, and off you are to acquiring whatever the knowledge or skill.

Now, as it so happens, ONLINE is an ideal format for this knowledge transfer to work, for it easily can come from a qualified source, and be direct in the transfer.

Yes, it is true.  All this will work only if there is a will to learn by the learner, not for someone being taught against his will.    But that’s a different subject we’ll deal with in another posting.

In the meantime, here are a couple of web sites for learning which work on this premise:

Learning can be fun!