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How Do We Learn?
I like this picture. It was presented on our course yesterday and I think that is how my brain works! I link new things to things I already know to make sense of them & them I try to characterise them to make more understanding. I like mind maps too and I imagine my brain may work a bit like that. I am sure if I delved into the world of how brains work I would need to link any new knowledge to my current picture and them evolve it.

What is teaching? Teaching is facilitating someone to learn ... well that's what I think. So perhaps it is helping someone build on what they already know or can do and changing that to create a greater understanding or ability or knowledge. Reece & Walker (2007;53) state that
Learning is about change: the change brought about by developing a new skill, understanding something new, changing an attitude.
So I need to know something about educational theory ... first I need a reason to want to know (other than my essay and a desire to pass my course! Well actually it is quite interesting, but the quote from Reece & Walker (2007;53) does it for me, the logical mathematical me that likes to do the most for less and create the best outcome with the best use of resources:
As teachers, it is argued, we need to know how people behave under certain circumstances so that we can optimise their learning through the provision of conditions that make it as easy as possible.
In class yesterday we discussed differences in how children learn and how adults learn and I was introduced to two new words: pedagogy and andragogy, which I was told relate to child like learning and adult like learning. Of course these will be models!  Reece & Walker (2007;57) introduce these two approaches, although doesn't really explain what they are except to say that a pedagogical approach is teacher lead so a teacher "dictates the pace of learning" and the "students are rather passive". "An andragogical approach places more emphasis on what the learner is doing" and is "about how adults learn". So not particularly helpful. If mimicking is child like (ie pedalogical) then that is not wrong as children clearly learn fast - walking, eating with a spoon, climbing the stairs, conversation, building etc. Adults though, often do need to know why something is the way it is and how it links with what they know already. I my coaching experience teaching adults to paddle compared with children, adults will often ask for more information or want to know the answer or whether they have it right, whereas children will "play" with what you have shown them, adapt and just know that it is fine.
I have now looked up the definitions of pedagogy and andragogy and have linked the words to the wikipedia definitions. Pedagogy literally means "to lead the child" and andragogy means "to lead the man or adult" based on the Greek derivation.
Having read the two definitions I am not sure now different these two words are in actuality other than referring to different stages in life. Andragogy talks about adults needing control over their learning and it being relevant, but my experience with my 11 year old child is that he also needs relevance ... and maybe teaching him something about history using an IT game is sufficient as it appeals to his sense of fun! There is reference to building on knowledge for adults - well surely we do that for children too ... build on their current knowledge of the world and facts by using real world examples. I am beginning to think that really there is perhaps not as much difference as I first thought. As teachers we need to take the students we have in front of us and adapt our teaching accordingly, whatever their age, ethnic background, religion or whatever. We need to draw on their experiences and give them guidance towards the goals set in the class ... these goals could be teacher or student lead depending on the type of course being taught!

 



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