Connecting with Learning

Connecting with Learning

by Susannah, 16 Feb 2021

In schools we rush learners from one subject to the next, from one task to the next and from one topic to the next. How much learning actually happens?

During the pandemic lockdowns I've had many conversations about how children are 'falling behind' on their learning.  It's been a time to reflect on how much learning really happens during an average school day and, sadly,  I think most people would be rather disappointed by the reality.

The human brain is not a receptacle.

Teachers cannot pour knowledge into learners' minds.  Learners need to connect the dots and make the effort to think about what they are learning - otherwise it'll be lost within days.  The question is, do we give learners enough time to reflect?  

The temptation when teaching a large class of possibly disenchanted young people is to move quickly. The other temptation for teachers is to glide seamlessly over areas that are tricky in order to avoid confusing or boring the students.  No!  Sometimes we need to slow right down.

I've recently been working through GCSE chemistry, physics and biology with my two sons.  The content of the science GCSEs is huge and without a firm key stage three foundation, a very steep learning curve.  We've found some videos on YouTube that slow everything down by Tyler DeWitt.  His videos are the opposite of almost all of the other educational videos we've recently plowed through.  Most educational videos are all-singing all-dancing whistle-stop tours of all of the 'fun bits' with the focus on speed of delivery.  Apart from entertainment value (and there's nothing wrong with entertainment!), I'm not entirely convinced of their true value.  If a learner is struggling with a concept or process, find a video that slows down, that shows worked examples, that discusses misconceptions...

...which brings me to why I chose the triangle image for this article.  If you look at it carefully, it might not say what you think it says.  Effective learning needs to take into consideration the preconceptions, misconceptions, prior experiences and assumptions of learners.  This is virtually impossible to do at a fast pace.  

Learners need time.