Response to Chapter One
What is your theory of learning? From your perspective, how do people learn? What are the important processes?
Learning, in my opinion, is something that truly cannot be taught by a teacher to a student. The student must learn how to think critically about the challenges that are presented by the teacher in her own way, because there is no ‘one right way’ to think. Just as many roads lead to Rome, there are many paths to learn a concept. There have been theories around for decades that champion the idea that people are either kinesthetic, auditory, or visual learners, and while not entirely accurate, they are not untrue either. Some people need to run through the situation mentally, others need to write down all alternatives, others can absorb information by hearing it in lecture, etc. etc. etc. But the traditional system that involves schools educating students in the same manner, every day most likely leaves many students in the dust because they simply cannot process the information presented.
In saying that, simply being able to parrot back the information covered in class is not ‘learning’ per se. It’s a stepping stone towards understanding the concept, for sure, but until the student can create something new with the raw information, the information is but words threaded together. We use echolalia as a symptom of autism, but we praise students when they can repeat the correct factual answer back at us teachers. The reason many students prefer multiple choice exams over essays is simple: the act of recognizing the correct answer is easier than formulating a coherent response and synthesizing ideas. But there are more ways for students to show their ability to synthesize the lesson’s information than essays-which is a predominant aspect of this course.
In conclusion, students can only truly feel that they have learned a concept if they can successfully use the information to synthesize something entirely new, whether it be an essay, a project, or a website. This trip through Bloom’s Taxonomy ensures that the student can successfully store the lesson in their memory, in their arsenal of information, to be used at a later date. If a student cannot answer the age old parent question “What did you learn today?” successfully, it signifies that we, as teachers, and they, as students, need to reevaluate our school system.