HOW DO PEOPLE LEARN
Learning involves far more than what happens in education. The process of learning is basic to every new habit formed as the result of experience. A child learns to identify its parents, to cry for their attention, to love them, to fear the neighbour’s dog, etc. They also learn how to control their bladder, to respond to verbal instructions and to sense people’s meanings from facial expressions. Even talking is learnt.
Most of us learn to behave in ways which society approves of. A few of us learn to hate social rules, or at least how to avoid following them. Some people learn to be anxious when there is no real danger: such acquired anxieties may become a ruling factor in our lives, in which case they are called neuroses.
We learn to plan for our future, to delay immediate gratification in favour of more distant goals. It is possible for creative individuals to learn new creative ways of doing things, and to develop artistic or intellectual abilities and use them for the benefit of the world. We learn religious attitudes, and systems of thought -which are called scientific theories.
The ability to learn is closely related to the process of memory. Intellectual activity no doubt assists learning, but motor activity is also important in the process. Learning also depends heavily on individual interest, and the attention given to the process. In other words, learning involves the capacity to adapt one’s mind and behaviour to the task and can be summed up as follows:
- Trial and error is the most primitive form of learning. This is common with children or animals, but adults also use the method occasionally. It involves failing, then retrying until a successful conclusion is reached.
- Constant repetition without understanding. This is a method which is characteristic of early speech training, although the method can exist in certain circumstances throughout life.
- The most effective method of learning is one involving constant repetition together with an understanding of the principles involved, and the reason for taking one action rather than another. This is the method which makes use of intelligence, and definitely the most effective method of learning.
CONSTRUCTING THE MEMORY
In studies of memory, three aspects are considered. They are:
- Encoding -Information received in the mind is transformed in order that it will reside in the memory in a different form from that given by the stimulus.
- Storage -This depends on whether stimuli received are committed to short or long term memory. Memory based on short transitory media is very short -perhaps a few seconds to a few hours. (e.g. trying to recall an unfamiliar telephone call you dialled earlier in the day). Other memories can live for years or even decades. This type of memory is converted and committed to deeper sanctities of the brain, mainly by repetition.
- Retrieval -Short term memory retrieval is usually immediate whereas we often need to work at retrieving longer term memories. Neither of these two assumptions are correct. When one desires to recall an item from memory, the brains memory store is scanned. The scanning proceeds by serial scanning, one item at a time ...but extremely fast.
Our capacity for memory is so vast that even fully utilising the brain for 70 years, its capacity would only be half utilised. No one has bad memory! The memory itself is perfect unless damaged by an accident.
If you tell yourself you cannot remember, your mind tends to block recall; but if you allow memory to function effortlessly, without trying to block it, the response to recall will then be good.
There are several exercises that can help a person memorise. These are:
- Make sure you understand that which you recall. Material which has a meaning is more easily recalled than that which is meaningless, not fully understood or in which interest is lacking.
- Try to remember by using the positive aspect "I know"
- Seek the feature around which the whole is formed. This involves intelligent selection of what one wishes to recall.
- In those circumstances where essential parts go to form the whole; remember the whole and not the parts.
- If the item cannot be recalled, sleep on it and let the unconscious do its work. It is surprising how often this works.
- Frequent repetition of the items will give dominant priority. This is the method of revising and re-revising before examinations.
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Our principal and staff have written dozens of reference books as supplementary texts to complement studies in our school
These books are mostly available as ebook, through our online bookstore. They include the following titles. You can click on any of these titles to go to the bookstore and see more details, on that title (including a free download of some of the pages).
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