Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Learning

September 11th, 2005 · No Comments

Dave Pollard writes about “Becoming a Tiger: How Baby Animals Learn to Live in the Wild, by Susan McCarthy.”

The primary message of this book is that all of the qualities that define learning, intelligence, knowledge, technology and culture (including songs, dances, shared social behaviours and skills, mating rituals, habits, tendencies, preferences, work-product, language, and socialization) are present in abundance throughout the animal kingdom.

But the more important message, I think, are these five universal truths about how we learn:

* We all learn differently, so no one way of conveying knowledge can ever be effective for most or all learners
* We learn more from being shown than from being told (and we almost universally dislike pedagogical, classroom-type teaching — we learn from and within the real world)
* We learn (a) from observing someone else learning something, (b) from being shown something directly ourselves, and (c) from thinking and practicing further on our own (most animals prefer to try hard new things while no one is watching them) — and all three types of learning are essential for a complete learning experienced
* Rivalry, shyness, impatience, urgency, attention, and the desires for freedom, independence and control all influence our learning capacity as much as mental ability
* In encouraging learning, rewards are important, but motivation is much more important — that’s why we learn much better just-in-time (when we’re motivated) than just-in-case
* We learn best from role models — those we trust, respect and consider to be successful in the field we are learning about — and role models are self-selected, they cannot be imposed

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