The Process of Learning
Long before we are institutionalized, regimented and equipped with number two pencils and colored neat-books; we learn by falling into mud puddles and catching tadpoles. We find grass is green and sprouts between our toes and tickles the bottom of our feet with whispered softness. We sport kool-aid mustaches and know the purple kind is the best. We catch butterflies and learn their wings are as soft as the petals of the most exquisite flower. We learned through interaction using all our senses: touch, sight, smell, hearing and by experimenting. Though we had authority figures in our life that took care of our physical needs and stimulated our learning; we were basically free to explore and learn by watching.
Understanding how we learn is as important as what we learn. The human mind has the ability to grow brain with connecting cells called dendrites. Concentrated thought causes the brain to rewire itself, making it possible for anyone, young or old to learn. According to Psychologist Robert Stern, "To learn, we need the ability to organize our thoughts and coordinate them with action." This process is called meta cognition" or thinking about thinking. By thinking about thinking, the tutor can stimulate the thought process so that the student is able to come to the answers on his own. (Jennings and Blakemore).
Traditional learning uses a communication method that sends messages from the teacher, "an authority figure" to the students. Students do not interact with one another and the teacher has the power to direct the flow of interaction.
Or does he? Look outside the circle to the many sub-groups that affect class room performance.
Before we get to the class room we learn a great deal on the bus. We learn which teachers are tough. We learn our first cuss words, and gain an elementary, though somewhat flawed, knowledge of sex and we learn the established "pecking order". We learn if you are late, you won't get a ride or the concept of consequences for actions.
As we grow older, we trade information in other subgroups that improve our ability to learn. Service groups allow us to put what we learn into action. They allows us to examine the relationship between practice, theory and statistics.
The teacher can be a mentor, an authority figure, a guide or a reality censor where we can test the validity of information we absorb. Tutors can reinforce what the teacher is teaching using interaction similar to that used by cross-functional teams in many of the nation's businesses. Cross-functional teams combine the talents of individuals, interacting as equals to diagnose problems and find solutions. In the cross-functional team, a great deal of learning takes place as people from different departments share information held within their departments. Team members draw on their differences of information, backgrounds and combine abilites to learn the effects of problems and why they occur.
Curiously, the first...