What is Learning?

As we near the end of a Term 3, one of full isolation and remote learning here in Victoria, I’m beginning to visualize a smooth transition back to school. Before we start getting excited, yelling “freedom!” let’s give you a tool that’s not in the curriculum. A little education secret.

Let’s paint a picture of what learning is.

Ever reflected on how you got the knowledge you have today?

It’s an accumulation of experiences. Some of which you remember, some of which you don’t. Each one has shaped your brain.

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I think of it like power extension cords (yes, my Granddad was an electrician, my Dad was an electrician and my partner is a sparky), call me predictable.

The brain has all these cords, interwoven and knotted. Each cord contains memories, learning or thoughts. When we learn, we connect another cord into the mix. Ever heard me harp on about connections?

Over time, as we pull up memories in our minds, we change the cords or again add in a new one. If we don’t use a cord for a little while the brain snips it away; ‘pruning.’

Over the years, I hear parents ask “how do I help my child get A’s” or “how do I help my child become a doctor.”

I can’t answer that, but I can tell you how to help them LEARN.

To reiterate; when we truly learn, we add a connection or alter a current connection in the brain. When we learn DEEPLY, we add a new connection to multiple old connections.

If not, the learning stays for seconds, maybe minutes, then disappears. Ever heard of short-term and long-term memory?

How does this translate to home?

The age old question of “what did you learn today?” is no longer enough for our learners. If we want a concrete foundation for learning we need frequent, connected conversations.

  • “Are you having a good day? Why?”
  • “What stuck out today? What else?”
  • “Where did you struggle today? How so?”

Do yourself a favor and spend 14 minutes tonight watching this clip (or pop your headphones in and just LISTEN).

Be prepared, it may shift the way you think.

Professionally and personally. You will start to locate those in work meetings who are learning and those that may be set in ‘predictor mode.’ Catch them early, catch them quick and TURN ON their brains!

Then, next week we will throw ourselves into some more ‘incidental’ conversations for making the learning really ‘stick’ at home.

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