Week 1

  • your previous learning experiences. Think about one particularly successful and one unsuccessful learning experience. Consider what were the conditions that made this experience successful or unsuccessful for you and what this tells you about your own preferred ways to learn.

Hello everyone! My name is Tavus, and this is my reflection before starting the first week’s tasks.

I will start with reflecting on my unsuccessful learning experience, which was math lessons in my school growing up. My math teachers only cared about students who naturally understood and loved math, and they catered to these students’ speed and styles. I, among other students for whome math was tricky, simply stopped learning about math because of confusion and lagging behind. For so long, I thought that I was unable to understand math. Since I have become a teacher, however, I realized that it was my teachers who were unable to understand how students learn. They did not see me as someone who could learn math, and stopped giving any effort towards teaching me. Therefore, math lessons were always very difficult for me, that I barely passed each one of them.

Luckily, I have many successful learning experiences too. Specifically when it came to learning languages. Decoding letters into sounds and meaning was something that always came easily to me. As it was easy for me to pick up reading, whithout much effort by anyone, so was to pick up another language. Besides this natural skill, I also loved the fact that I could express myself in a different language. For me learning the English language (as my third language) was to enter a new world full of excitement and new possibilities. I learned the language very quickly, and whithin two years of starting it, my English was at the level of my teachers’ English. My first English teacher played a big role in my success. He was deeply connected to what makes students learn. Every lesson, he would capture our attention with teaching methods no other teacher has shown us. He would slam a chair on top of the tables in front of us and shout “A chair!” No student ever forgot the English name of that piece of furnuter, from that day on. This environment that teacher created pushed me towards wanting to learn more and more. He also pushed the students to take their skills outside of the school borders. This encouragement eventually got me to America, which lead me to more successful learning.

What made my learning experiences either successful or unsuccessful, seems to be the combination of my genetic (natural) strengths and weaknesses with the teachers’ methods and qualities. Understanding math was hard for me to understand and I had the misfortune of meeting teachers who were not able to use various methods to nurture my learning style. Reading and learning a new language was easy for me, and I had the opportunity to learn from a teacher who understood how best to teach me.

This reflection leaves me wondering: was it my strengthes that helped me through these learning experiences, or was it the teachers? Would have I learned math better if I had a better teacher from the beginning?

The answers to these questions are complicated once I consider other aspects of my stories. For example, I had other opportunities with different math teachers, and I am still not that great at math. It’s true that I cannot remember an outstanding math teacher. The one that made numbers come to life. However, it is also true that I had other opportunites to improve my math that I did not take. Also, while my English teacher was great to me, there were only 3 out of 28 students who successfully became fluent in English in my class.

This brings another, a philosophical question: did I steer my life towards what I could do easily according to my genetic strenths (such as language learning), and did not take the roads that would have lead me to difficulties where my weaknesses (such as math) could be strengthened? I would say Yes to this. I am curently a teacher, especially of language development, and I am still weak in math and fearful of it.

Do all students do the same as me?