Real Learning

Real learning: It is first acted out on a social plane, and then can be seen as a change in behavior that is internalized and understood by the individual. It requires an understanding of what you know, and how to further your knowledge. It also requires seeking an understanding when disequilibrium is met, and reorganizing thought processes in order to adapt to new information.

  1. Social Plane

Source of learning is derived from a social context

Then played out in two planes: first social plane and then internalized in the psychological plane.

Example: Children will “talk it out” to others until they understand and internalize it themselves

“We might formulate the general genetic law of cultural development as follows, any function in the child’s cultural development appears on the stage twice, on two planes, first on the social plane and then on the psychological], first among people as an intermental category and then within the child as an intramental category” (Vygotsky, 1966, p.44).

“Learning awakens a variety of internal developmental processes that are able to operate only when the child is interacting with people in his environment and in cooperation with his peers. Once these processes are internalized, they become part of the child’s independent developmental achievement,” (Vygotsky, Mind in Society pg. 90).

2. An Internalized and Understood Change in Behavior

After the learned content is acted out on a social plane, the individual changes their behavior that is then internalized so they can understand and now incorporate it into their life. Behavior theorist such as Bandura, Skinner and Slavin all believe that change in behavior plays a role in identifying that an individual has learned. Using positive and negative reinforcements, punishments and consequences, results in the continuance of a behavior or the weakening of one; which inevitably changes the individual’s behavior in the future. Individual’s behavior is also changed through vicarious learning, in which they observe others actions and the different consequences and develop thoughts and/or hypotheses about these actions which act as a guide for the individual’s future actions (Bandura). The thoughts that are internalized then become part of the child’s independent developmental achievement.

3. Understanding What You Know-Metacognition and Cultural Influences

Metacognition

Understanding of what you know is a process of metacognition. Metacognition, the ability to know one’s cognitive skills, such as knowledge or study habits, is crucial for developing knowledge through inquiry. White & Frederikson believe that metacognition and cognition occur through socialization, even when working alone. True learning can be achieved by giving students specific roles within a community, and practicing collaborative inquiry and reflective learning. Metacognition is the awareness that you have of your own thinking and mental processes; it is knowing Understanding what you know and do not know, which is required in the true learning process.

Cultural Influences

Understanding your cultural background is also a part of understanding what you know. Gutierrez & Rogoff mentioned that culture “is experienced in local, face-to-face interactions that are locally constrained and heterogeneous with respect to both ‘culture as a whole’ and the parts of the entire toolkit experienced by any given individual.” One’s culture may affect how they would act when they are not in their familiar community or home setting, thus understanding your culture background is essential for real learning.

Vygotsky and sociocultural theory:
This exhibit at the #burkemuseumreminded us of Vygotsky and his theory. El Dia de Los Muertos is a Mexican celebration and ritual that honors the deceased. “For Mexican people, death is our faithful lover, the one who will always be at our side, for good and for bad. It is because death that we will be certain that life exists” (Hernandez Ruiz 2007). How do cultural differences regarding death shape a child’s understanding of death and the grieving process? Do children of different cultures process through death differently or is it universal?

4. Furthering Your Knowledge

Knowing how to further your knowledge is important for continuing your learning and understanding. It requires the individual to be aware of their current level of the zone of proximal development, which Vygotsky defines as “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers,” adding that it also “defines those functions that have not yet matured but are in the process of maturation, functions that will mature tomorrow but are currently in an embryonic state,” (Vygotsky, Mind in Society pg. 86). Understanding what is in an individual’s zone of proximal development helps them distinguish between what they already know and have mastered (their actual developmental level), and what they are currently in the process of learning (level of potential development). This makes it clear exactly what an individual should be focusing on learning, and helps them formulate a better approach to furthering that state of learning (most commonly through guidance or peer interaction). This is an important part of real learning because it allows individuals to constantly progress in their understanding and knowledge rather than plateau and remain stagnant within a level of development

5. Seeking to Adapt and Reorganization-Using Piaget

“Of course, the level of disequilibrium must be just right or optimal-too little and we aren’t interested in changing, too much and we mav be discouraged or anxious and not change (Piaget 2)”

Learning Process

Piaget mentions how certain concepts or pieces of information can change your way of thinking. When no new information is presented, and an individual is comfortable with what they know and are in equilibrium. Adapting through assimilation is taking information that is similar to what is in your existing schema, and incorporating the information to fit your schema. Disequilibrium is when someone is presented with new information that they are unsure how to organize into their schema. To adapt to the new information they have to use accommodation in order to change their way of thinking and understanding so that they can reorganize, and after doing so reach the state of equilibrium once again. The result of this process is learning new information.

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