LEARNING THEORY EVOLVES

- initially created by Bill Kerr (blog, website)

Direct Instruction - Indigenous Memes (December 2013 - Bill)

CONTEXT: appalling basic literacy and numeracy rates amongst indigenous Australians, especially those who live in remote regions.
PERCEPTION: We literally see the world according to the memes in our minds
HYPOTHESIS: Many can't see the value of DI because of the synergistic influence of a plethora of mind memes which act as blinkers and filters to influence their perception. The rejection of DI is not based on research or science as is claimed but results from a deep, internally coherent world view. ie. the rejection of DI is more part of a cultural, psychological, philosophical and political world view and not scientific as is usually claimed. This is the generous interpretation, the less generous interpretation is that older practitioners are too set and have too much invested in their ways to change in the face of new evidence.



learning evolves pyramid (March, 2008 - Bill)

Educational reform in Australia is stuck at the point of dialogue between a back to basics or traditional content policy on the one hand and the “left” progressivist policy of soft sociological reform (process skills are more important than content).



What is knowing (knowledge / knower dialectic)? 17Feb 07 (Bill)

Even though 90% of cognition is "being there" (enactivism) we still have a very strong brain-centric view of human cognition because the remaining 10% is what separates humans from other animals. It is hard to break from this brain-centric view of human development, which is historically reinforced by Plato's and Descartes' idealism, the idea that Mind somehow stands above our embodied actions in the real world... read more at knowledge page



Recent changes is another good way to see how this site is evolving.



it isn't immediately obvious

1) Marvin Minsky said the trick is that there is no trick. "There is no single secret, magic trick to learning; we simply have to learn a large society of different ways to learn". So we need to study a wide variety of learning theories to learn about the wide variety of tricks that different people use to learn. It's a lot of work and takes some time. Much (all?) of this is contextual as represented in theories like multiple intelligences or experiences of teaching ADHD or Asperger's syndrome students. What works for one may not work for another. There is no general theory of learning just as there is no general theory of intelligence. Logical abstraction is a useful but limited tool. So, because learning theories are fuzzy, slippable, embodied and situated things and not sharp, hard edged purely logical things they do require a lot of study to understand them. It doesn't begin or end with study of learning theory. There is philosophy, history, evolution, artificial intelligence, neuroscience and more.

It's not always immediately obvious how these complicated ideas do impact on ourselves and our students at the nitty gritty day to day level. For some of the time we are flying blind and the theory can muddle your mind. But eventually the study and self learning does impact and sometimes in deep but again, hard to explain, ways. A good learner / teacher needs lots of tricks not just a few tricks. Because the trick is that there is no single trick.

What are the benefits? We improve on our currently limited or poorly understood (and sometimes harmful) ideas of what it might mean to achieve a fuller, richer human potential for both ourselves and others. We expand our curiosity with each new learning quirk we discover, in ourselves and others. We improve our sense of confidence and control over what is happening in our lives.

Study of learning theory authors the sort of person you become.
(Bill 17Feb 07)

2) A learning theory, Kolb's for instance, might give you insights into different approaches by students to programming:
"One thing I did find after studying Kolb was that I was more aware of the learning styles of some of my problem students. It became obvious, for example, that some students continually hacked their code trying to get to a solution but without reflecting on what they were doing."
- Daniel Livingstone, this blog entry
The learning theory improves your day to day teaching.

3) Learning theories might help deliver radical curriculum reform. I think that’s why we have all those -isms (constructivism, behaviourism, connectivism, etc.) and that although -isms can be dangerous we still have them and they might be necessary. Because how else could we have a big change without a theory to justify it and help us think about it? Should we stick to -isms or should we be more pragmatic and just cherry pick different useful ideas out of the various theories? I’m not entirely sure but I am more inclined to think that we need big change. That might mean the -isms are necessary. You might develop a new unit of work under the influence of constructionism, for instance.

The learning theory is indispensible to the curriculum reform effort.
(Bill 25 Oct, 2006)


Overall goals:
Can epistemology (nature of knowledge) and learning theory make a difference? Can we narrow the gap between the best research into what we discover about the human mind and how quickly that is put into practice at the classroom (but why confine it to the classroom) level?

To critically evaluate all learning theories in a practical way (ascend from the abstract to the concrete)
Practice is theorised and then returned to practice in a continual spiral development. There's no point in having ideas if you are not going to test them out in the real world.


You are welcome to join and contribute. Please sign and date your contributions, if discrete, like so --> (Bill Sep 16).


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