Reinventing the Wheel

Here’s an article from Time magazine’s website that shocked me and amused me;

Time Blog – How Doctors Learn

The shock came from the fact that it propelled me back in time to my early 20’s and the profound experiences I got from reading two books. Those experiences were amongst my strongest motivations to study and understand more about the process of how humans learn and ultimately to become an educator. The first was by Tony Buzan (I forget which one of his wonderful books now). The second was the first edition of Colin Rose’s “Accelerated Learning” which was published in 1983.

The latter book might well be nearly 30 years old but by the pitiful evidence of this article it should be compulsory reading for every educator even today. When I read it, what profoundly shocked me was the amount of scientific and learned evidence that Rose included in the book, that had existed at the time when I was in formal education, but which had obviously been completely ignored by educators of that time. Therefore, I can’t help laughing when now, nearly 30 years later, a methodology/ principle which was incorporated in both those books is paraded as something novel, as though freshly discovered.

The scientific basis was the need for learners to have methods that counteract the effects of something that goes by the wonderful name of ‘The Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting’. I have sought to teach the method to students over the years. I have also used it with considerable benefit, especially when preparing material for speeches and presentations.

Sadly, we are all so busy teaching “the stuff” that educators and students fail to give adequate time to building a genuine understanding of the cognitive, neurological, mental, emotional and physical processes that go in to effective learning. The result is that the vast majority of learners are working with bad learning strategies.

I have often been inclined to say, there are no bad learners – just those with inadvertently inappropriate learning strategies. It’s time we pay far more attention to the metacognitive processes of learning how we learn.


One Response

  1. Interesting and very well validated by mothers all around. It is always a pleasure to see the child perform so well in the tests, indicating to a good extent his grasping of the subject, when he has had enough time to revisit and apply the subject a few times before the test. But, many a times our systems and syllabi ask us to test them on topics that were initiated a day or two prior to the test as well ! This may be an opportunity to change both for the learner and the facilitator…

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