Presentation on theme: "What is “Learning”? What do we need in order to learn? Do children learn differently from adults? Can we learn how to learn …? …Or are we stuck with our."— Presentation transcript:
What is “Learning”? What do we need in order to learn? Do children learn differently from adults? Can we learn how to learn …? …Or are we stuck with our attributes? If we can learn how to learn— how ?
Digression: the problem of the (learning) pie We can stipulate dictionary definitions all we like, but the boundary of what is and is not learning (still more “educational” learning) is far from clear
How big is the pie? We could of course confine ourselves to formally “taught” learning of academic subjects, but given the variation in educational systems, that is pretty arbitrary. In any case, how does the subject content affect the individual’s learning process? Big question.
Or is it this big? Or do we include “socialisation” and other informal learning; what we just “pick up” by living in a given society?
Let’s say it is this big… Simply for the sake of argument…
Do we slice it this way? Formal learning Informal learning
It all depends… It all depends on what you are trying to explore The theorists are not all talking about the same thing Do psychologists and educationalists mean the same thing by “learning”?
No! For psychologists, all learning is similar Learning to be afraid of spiders …or hot-wire stolen cars …or hate men/women/people of another colour or religion… …or to despise yourself Educationalists are interested in “valuable” learning What about astrology? Fraudulent accounting? Wanting a Barbie doll?...
End digression… So what is “learning”? "a relatively permanent change in behaviour that results from practice." (Atkinson et al 1993). What are the problems with this definition?
"a relatively permanent change in behaviour that results from practice." How permanent does that have to be? A few months ago I learned some short-cuts to enable me do some things quickly in Excel. I haven’t needed to use them since, and when I came back to the task today, I couldn’t recall them. Did I really learn them? But I can still ride a bike after a break of a dozen years! Why? How?
"a relatively permanent change in behaviour that results from practice." What about knowledge (or feelings) which are not directly reflected in practice? Secretly, I believe that the world is controlled by a group of mutant lizards from Venus called the “Illuminati” (OK, I’m conflating a number of conspiracy theories here). Clearly I have acquired these beliefs from somewhere, but if I (very sensibly) do not allow these beliefs to affect my behaviour, have I learned them?
"a relatively permanent change in behaviour that results from practice." How much do I have to practise? And what if I am (genetically) pre- disposed to acquire a skill, such as walking or talking?
So what is excluded ? Innate capacities. Suckling Babinski reflexes Fight-flight physiological responses Sexuality (?) Maturational processes Puberty Some psychological “readinesses” Language capability
Where learning comes in… Learning refers only to what we add to the rest through interaction with our environment Much of our developing capacity comes through growing up (if the conditions are simply good- enough) It is all based on our genetic endowment.
Humans… Are more “plastic” than any other species Born less capable than any other mammal “Neoteny” Hence more dependent on learning.
Hint for assessment The big problem with learning theories is deciding the “range of convenience” Which theory works best for which kind of learning?