The Way We Learn
Shaun Kerry, M.D.
The key element of learning is FOCUS. It's much easier for someone to
focus on a one-sentence question than it is for that person to focus on
a chapter in a book.
|The stimulus in
should take the form of a question.
First, the question stimulates the person to think about an
Second, the ability to answer the question
provides an instant measure of
the success or failure of the learning process. If the student is
unable to answer the question, it can be repeated until the
answer is learned. Learning is enhanced by maximum sensory
stimulus. If we simultaneously see and hear the question/answer,
it will have a much greater impact on our memory. If the stimulus
is delivered in a more captivating form, such as with surround sound or
on a wide-screen, the impact is even greater.
One of the biggest problems in the traditional classroom is
distraction, both on the part of the teacher and the student.
Someone may be making a commotion. Something might be happening
outside the door. Its hard to pay attention to a dull lecture or a
textbook when there are other things occurring in the environment that
affect all of the senses. One benefit of the audiovisual
presentation is that it can hold everyone's attention.
In many cases, textbooks can be eliminated. They are expensive and
burdensome to carry. Some books take three-hundred pages to say
what could easily be said in ten. Other books are overly terse and
confusing. Usually, only about half of the book is covered in a
course. It is more efficient and cost effective to use
computer-generated printed handouts. The savings in textbook
expenses should easily cover the cost of the projection monitor and
ancillary equipment. The net increase in classroom budgets would
Lectures, unless given only occasionally, are inefficient. During lectures,
students frantically take notes, translating what they hear into fact
fragments. Later, they must try to decipher their hastily taken
|may or may not accurately reflect the meaning of
After all of this, students are expected to
memorize their notes. The exception to this is the
inspirational lecture. In this case, the teacher is speaking from
the heart, with the objective of sharing an experience from his or her
own life with the students.
Many people learn best
through self-initiated exploration. This is fortunate,
because knowledge, in and of itself, does not solve problems. The
most pressing problems that we face today will only be solved through
discovery, thought, and exploration. A solid foundation of
knowledge is required, but the universe of information is extremely
vast. Except for the basics, we don't know what information we
will need in the course of our lifetimes. It makes much more sense
to know where to look up the material when it is needed.
Excessive busywork and homework is
counterproductive and makes
students resentful. Teachers often pass out homework as if their
students were only taking one class. If a student becomes ill and
is unable to attend school, the work will pile up and the student may
fall behind. Examining our school system - our society’s primary
institution of socialization - it is no wonder why we live in what has
been termed, "the age of anxiety".
Let's suppose you were a manager in a company and
you were lucky enough to hire a
great employee. He had the one quality that every manager wants
most. He was a self starter, and didn't require a lot of
supervision. Everything was running well. Now let's suppose
that you are replaced by a new manager, who has to control every move
his employees make. The self-starting employee becomes very
frustrated because his personality is not adapted to that style of
management. He winds up quitting.
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