What is learning?
According to Richard E. Mayer, a professor of psychology at the University of California, we are still “trying to figure out how learning works”. He calls our attempt the “science of learning“. I agree with Mayer. As an educator, my role is to help people learn. But how do I do that? How do I facilitate learning? Mayer and most teachers claim that we can help people learn through instruction and assessment.
What does a teacher do?
Teaching is viewed as the transfer of information from the teacher to the student. The result of the transfer is learning. I have been called a teacher for over 30 years. However, I have never felt that my students learned because of my teaching. In fact, in 1978, I told a grade 11 class that I couldn’t teach them English, but that they could learn it. I continued and shocked them even more when I said, “in fact, I can’t teach you anything”. The next day, the principal called me in and reprimanded me for saying such things. Apparently, the kids and their parents were outraged. The principal asked me to apologize to the kids and never say such things again.
Was I right or wrong? Can students learn on their own? If you believe that teachers are essential for learning, you will find Applying the Science of Learning by Richard E. Mayer of great value. However, if you believe that learning can take place anywhere, at any time, and without the presence of a teacher, you will find the work by Professor Sugata Mitra, Ackoff & Greenberg, Eric Marcos, and kids teaching kids week in Australia of interest.
Kids Teaching Kids
Kids may learn best by teaching their peers.
Turning Learning Right Side Up
Russell L. Ackoff and Daniel Greenberg in Turning Learning Right Side Up claim that it’s time we stopped focusing on teaching and paid more attention to learning. To get the gist of what they claim, listen to the following audio recording and article by Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Is it possible to learn without a teacher?
According to the “hole-in-the-wall” experiments, kids can teach themselves when motivated to do so. In fact, in the studies conducted by Professor Sugata Mitra, the children not only taught themselves, but they taught their friends, too. The children learned because they were curious and wanted to know.
So what do people need in order to learn?
People need motivation, social learning, opportunities to teach and share information with friends, encouragement and technology. How does technology facilitate learning? If it’s that simple, why teaching still more popular with teachers than with students? Why are teachers doing most of the learning as Ackoff and Greenberg claim?
Learn more about the “hole-in-the-wall” and about using technology in remote areas of the world. Join, professor Sugata Mitra in a conversation on WizIQ conversation.
Join Dr. Nellie Deutsch and Dr. Kalyan Chattopadhyay in a live conversation with Professor Sugata Mitra. Professor Sugata Mitra is a visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab in Boston, MA, and a Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education for Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, UK.
Born in Calcutta, India, Dr. Sugata is famous for his “Hole-in-the wall” experiments such as the “Granny Cloud” project of volunteers. Professor Mitra was self-taught and has a firm belief that others can do the same through technology and the Internet.
The session will be conducted on August 31, 2012 at 12:00 pm (EST).