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July 01

Gail Brown

More about Learning, Thinking & our brains, Part 1

  • Mon 7th Jan 2013
  • Gail

This post is about revisiting learning, again, and please, no “rolling of eyes” (like some of our students do!?) – because this is something that we need to keep revisiting. Like anything important we want to keep learning more and more, to deepen our understanding. I’ve been learning about learning, myself and as a teacher, for more than 30 years now, and I’m still learning more – as we uncover more about how our brains function, we are learning so much more about how effective learning happens!

You may not have read my earlier post, a few weeks ago, about Washburne’s 1936 article, “The Definition of Learning”, where he defined learning as:

 “an increase, through experiences, of problem solving ability” (page 611).

I want to expand on his ideas about learning, more specifically, about learning during acquisition of new concepts, and about learning to become fluent with knowledge and skills.

Washburne described one type of learning, which we would call the acquisition phase of learning something new. I say this because he describes this as increasing our memory, so we have some new knowledge (after learning) that we didn’t have before. I found it amazing that he calls this learning:

“elaboration – the forming of new associations and imaginal extensions” (page 606).

This is exactly where working memory and our brains fit, because our brains can only manage a small number of new associations at the one time. So we need to problem solve, as teachers, how we ensure this learning is effective for our students! Have a well-earned holiday break, and we’ll continue this when you are rested and relaxed! 😊

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