|Why do we learn?|
We learn to shape our various intelligences. A general definition of intelligence is the ability to create useful products and solve daily problems.
In history the only necessary learning was done on the job to provide a living. Craftsmen passed their skills, knowledge and wisdom on to their offspring and pupils. Today we need to learn to function in a high complex post-industrial western society with the emphasis on information. Education is institutionalized and offered in schools. Schools are generally differentiated between three phases (this might differ from country to country)
We assume that between the second and third phase one makes a good choice and that there is a job or profession that fits the education at the end of these three phases. Nowadays we know we have to “update” our knowledge frequently throughout our lives because of changed technology. This continuous learning effort is called life-long-learning. In politics this needed learning might be reduced to an employability-policy which gives the concept a somewhat negative connotation.
We have several intelligences to learn and develop (according to Howard Gardner / Collin Rose); these intelligences are:
In 1996 Gardner added an eighth intelligence – Naturalistic – or nature smart. This intelligence deals with sensing patterns in and making connections to elements in nature – observing, collecting, categorizing and analyzing.
Charles Handy (1998) also identifies at least nine forms of intelligence which align with and enhance Gardner’s multiple intelligences (Factual, Analytical, Linguistic, Spatial,
When a range of intelligences are involved the learning ability is greatly enhanced. Each type of intelligence represents a different way to explore the subject and provides a different ability to call on when faced with a problem-solving task.
[Source: Brian Tracy Tapes & News article: The Future belongs to the competent]
The learning-systems we use are based on old traditions and the way society of interaction. The conventional system could generally be described as supply-based linear learning with a clear beginning and end.
New systems should be more flexible and more modular demand-based because of the high differences in experience, backgrounds and different preparatory training which must fit in non-linear learning scenarios which is common today.
In my vision education on all levels should be available to everyone, everywhere, and at any time. My ideal would be a worldwide open-source e-educational system, instantly bilateral translation of all structured meta and content-information (including multimedia) needed for comprehension of a subject.
Open source-education as a concept has many similarities to open source-software. The development of Linux, the most known (and popular) open-source alternative operating system, is therefore interesting in more ways than the related software-products alone.
Because the source-codes or program-instructions are available with the distribution, everyone can change and add functionality to the distributed program, or write its own programs with parts of available distributed content. Because of our current use of information and communication technology this concept of sharing, adapting and improving content (and I also refer to education) may well be the constructive principle of our new information society.
The challenge is to create new ways of combining formal and informal learning processes and worldwide collective agreement on the funding and public use of educational information. Initiatives like open source for the ICT-infrastructure and Transcopyright for the information content could bring mondial educational information exchange within closer reach.
|What is learning?|
Learning as a psychological concept can be defined in more than one way. The most popular definitions are:
A science requires an observable, measurable subject matter, and within the science of psychology, that subject matter is behavior. The qualification “relatively permanent” in the definition of learning means sensitization and habituation are examples of behavior modifications that results from experience in a relatively short period of time. Sensitization is the process whereby an organism is made more responsive to certain aspects of its environment. Habituation is the process whereby an organism becomes less responsive to its environment.
What is learned may not be utilized immediately. This is a very important distinction between learning and performance. Learning refers to a change in behavior potentiality; and performance refers to the translation of this potentiality into behavior. Not all behavior is learned. Much simple behavior is reflexive. A reflex can be defined as an unlearned response in reaction to a specific class of stimuli. Complex behavior can also be unlearned. When complex behavior patterns seem to be genetically determined, they are generally referred to as instinctive. Instinctive behavior includes such activities as nest building, migration, hibernation and mating behavior. This is also classified as species-specific-behavior. Research supports the contention that species-specific-behavior is both learned and unlearned. A newly hatched duckling would form an attachment to any kind of moving object and follow it as its mother, provided the object was presented at just the right moment in the duckling’s life. (Lorenz) The formation of an attachment between an organism and an environmental object is called imprinting. Imprinting was found to occur only during a critical period, after which it was difficult, if not impossible to imprint the duckling to anything. Imprinting is a combination of learned and instinctive behavior.
Learning is a general term used to describe changes in behavior potentiality resulting from experience. Conditioning (classical or instrumental) is more specifically used as a term to describe actual procedures that can modify behavior.
[Source: B.R. Hergenhahn, An introduction to theories of learning. ISBN 0134988744]
|[Toine Fennis, MetaMagazine.com 2001]|