Learning: How do we enhance it?

In US and in many of the countries in the world, the academic gap between affluent and poor kids is widening. This is what attracted me to start volunteering my time to bridge the digital divide between the affluent and poor kids. As I started volunteering, being a novice in teaching and in learning theories, quickly realized that learning is not just about the learning of knowledge. Having been trained in engineering with very little humanities study, decided to take the time to learn more about the different aspects of learning and enrolled in What Future for Education, a Coursera Course being taught by Dr. Clare Brooks.

With respect to my own experience as a learner, I have learnt to know and to do in schools, whereas my learning to live together and to be came from my parents, friends and society. Based on my aspects, I am excited to learn via the Coursera Course, as it helps combine the class room with students from all over the world. I am excited and looking forward to learning from the guided episodes as well as through the thoughts, comments and experiences from other students participating in this course.

Having gone through the first week and spending time on “How does one learn”, I have already learnt a lot. Learning encompasses a wider field: Learning to know, Learning to do, Learning to live together and Learning to be. Teachers, curriculum developers and administrators should appreciate this fact and structure the learning environment based on this approach. It was also very illuminating to learn about the impact of students background in their learning and the different ways in which they learn. Current teaching / schooling is largely based on “normalization”. Current teacher to students ratio hardly enables the attention / tuning that is needed for different students, be it their learning style or the impact of their social background on their learning.

As I go through the next 5 weeks of the “What Future for Education” course, I am hoping to learn on ways we can help address the resource issues on enabling customized education. How can we have the benefit of teachers as facilitators and yet tailor the learning experience based on the needs of children? In what ways can we weave in both “learning to live together” and “learning to be” with those of “learning to know” and “learning to do” ?

As we move from more traditional approach to constructivist approach, I believe the order of instruction can be changed. Currently, in most of the schools, theoretical aspects are discussed first and then this followed by select experiments. Rather than this, I think it will be better to start with an experiment, where a group of students will work together, and derive the natural laws themselves. This will help in creating a curiosity bug in students minds.