Panning for Nuggets

Nugget #1:

Why more serious? Because the UCLA students and professors (and their Harvard counterparts) knew something that contradicted the very theories they were trying to articulate and not one of them could get to that contradictory knowledge to say, “Hey, wait a minute…”! In some form, they “knew” about the opposite seasons and that they had seen the sun and the moon in the sky at the same time, but they did not “know” in any operational sense of being able to pull it out of their memories when thinking about related topics. Their “knowings” were isolated instead of set up to be colliding steadily with new ideas as they were formed and considered.

I pulled this nugget from the article (courtesy of Dr. Campbell) because it discusses the very real problem of what I am going to call “linear learning”. For the purpose of my argument, this will be defined as learning as a means to an end (ie. A grade) rather than learning to understand and connect. I would like to argue that this is the exact opposite of the learning I am advocating in my studies. This linear learning is extrinsic, done for a purpose/as a job, and then pushed to the back of the brain. What I am calling intrinsic learning is basically knowledge for knowledge’s sake. It is being inspired by a topic and making connections from one to another. (hint hint Wikipedia Wars hint hint) I really enjoyed the start of this article because it was such a great demonstration of the pitfalls of this linear learning.

Nugget #2:

Optimal arousal is presumed to lead to optimal human performance. If arousal is too low, one seeks stimulation in order to raise the arousal level; if it seeks uncomfortably high levels, one seeks arousal reduction. In both cases, the individual manifests an increased willingness to engage in exploratory behavior.

Disclaimer: This quote seems far less awkwardly sexual in nature in context of the rest of the reading. So let’s all get our minds out of the collective gutter and carry on. This book discusses the role of interest, which itself is discussed and defined, in learning and development. This nugget in particular relates both to my project as a whole and the nugget above in its discussion of the value of interest in learning, or even in more general matters. It’s often said that students who goof off in class are simply bored and/or not properly challenged. To borrow from this nugget, they therefore seek stimulation in order to raise their arousal level. If students were taught and allowed to follow their passions at a young age, they would have increased arousal and therefore interest, and then their learning and knowledge would branch out to make more connections. This would successfully correct the problem addressed above of linear learning.

Nugget #3:

This is an interesting article which gives informat
ion about gifted students and their
motivations for accepting challenges. Students may
report they are feeling bored in class, this
article analyzes the possible meanings of being “bo
red” in school. The article states that students
may; truly be bored, the work may be too hard, the
student may not like the work, the student
may fear failure, the student may prefer other work
, or the student may feel if they do some work
they will be expected to do more and harder work

I’m gonna take a bit of a tangent from my overarching theme and just tie this back into the example I gave before of students claiming to be ” bored “. See? I didn’t just make this up. As a former GT student (gifted & talented program, not bragging) I can vouch for the importance of relating to other peers on that plane of academic interest and ability. If these students and their needs are not addressed we risk losing their interest in academia and school-based success. It is important to pinpoint the cause of this loss of interest soon and remedy it.

So all in all to tie these together: I know it is unrealistic to cater to every child’s individual interests and complete a required curriculum, but I find it so important to grab a student’s interest while they’re young. We need to work on fostering a life-long love of knowledge and teach them how to enjoy research and learning.

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The Wrath of Kahn | The KahnQuest

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