17 Nov 2014
The student of self-directed learning is not restricted to a particular method or location. He learns because he chooses to.
Intuition is very natural in terms of neurology. Neurons (brain cells) are extremely versatile and exponential networking cells that can interact with as many as a thousand other neurons through electrical surges (synaptic connections). Data is shared between neurons in matters of nanoseconds, making muscle memory, and quick wit responses possible. Computers with this kind of inter-connectivity are not possible any time soon… Going further yet, the brain is simply the head of a larger networked system called “the Nervous System”. So inputs from all of the different nerve cells, and sensory organs. So the brain is like an intelligence agency, giving feedback and definition to new impulses and experiences, and storing them in a master database in the brain, or Hippocampus. Thus, repetition of a task helps to solidify the transfer of information from short-term memory to long-term memory.
Students of a subject need proper initiative. There needs to be an incentive to maintain progress in learning a subject when it exceeds the initial stimulation of the endorphin rush. Practical projects can allow for progress-mapping, but traditional methods of learning and instruction should also be available. Reading should be the paramount of learning techniques. If all learning must first pass through the permission of the individuals will, then all learning is essentially self-learning. But it can be internally or externally-governed. The labor of guided-curriculum structure can be off-loaded to another. Usually, the traditional lecture classroom is based on per-learned knowledge by the instructor, and in order to pass his knowledge fully to the students, the same or similar reading needs to be exposed to the students 1st hand for direct critique and critical thinking. Essays then push the externally-governed student into further self-discovered sub-topics on the subject, and expresses digging and academic self-perpetuation of an assignment.
The traditional method of higher learning is in the form of lecture-based classroom gatherings. This goes back to the time Hellenic Greeks, if not before. But perhaps this method is exaggerated, and should be seen only as one approach to learning and mastery of a subject. The “School of Hard Knocks” is a well-established cliché that basically promotes learning through failure. There is actually psychological case studies that affirm the reality of this method of learning. But others choose a more risky route of entrepreneurship, seeing a problem, creating a possible solution, and building a business solution with it. Learning comes then from both failure, and the incentive for growth. Another method of learning would be the open-ended learner. This is someone follows no prescribed method of instruction, but follows preference-based subjects in a seasonal manner. This last method is, in my opinion, is the last to achieve a real expertise in any one subject, since his preferences in learning change, and depend on repetition, some material may not pass into long-term memory.
Sources of Learning
Weather by another person, a magazine, journal article, or book, informational sources need to be validated by the sources they are pulling from? Is any information actually being generated, is it it all being shared and reshared by different mediums? This is a very important matter, because it means those who are trying to “remake the wheel” are, at best, wasting valuable resources of historical insight (the previous wheel). At worst, those people are actually deceiving others by rewriting the material that was originally there. It might also be less developed then the previous wheel, or less efficient. It has been said before, “build on the backs of those who have gone before you”. If your interest is in economics, best read up on the earliest historical accounts of economics, and then read up on modern economics in order for a practical understanding. And each source of information you consume is going to influence your journey of learning. Not everything that is consumed will be easily outperformed by future sources of information. Just because something seems legit doesn’t mean it should be taken as fact. Critical examination will illuminate much.
It is debated whether information can come into our minds outside of the five senses, but undoubtably, the five senses of sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing are essential for learning. Some are stronger at taking in information in one way over another. Students who have had good expierence with reading in the past, and eye doesn’t distract from long bouts of reading, they may perfer that method. Others may perfer listening, for a multitude of reasons. Sounds may have had a possitive effect on them when they were younger, and so now subconsciously perfer to listen over read or see things. Some may be weak in the sense of smell, and so their brain compensates by strengthening their sense of taste, or touch. That is not to say that a preference cannot be altered, but habits are not easily broken, and unless there is a good reason, reprogramming the brain is just not necessary. Finding where the individual takes in information best is the sweet spot.
I am no psychologist, but I have seem some clinical depression in my own life, and some symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). This is, initially, a set-back, until the work-around is found. I have found that I can read for long periods of time, even though I have a corrected retina in my right eye. But usually, interests shift before I can finish a book, and so I have learned to move with the interest, and allow intense interest in a subject steep until I have some long-term knowledge in place. Learning disabilities usually are only obvious because they are directly compared to others in a rigid institution of learning. But while students could express methods of learning they would prefer, humans are generally lazy, looking for the quickest route to the finish. Despite that, however, I believe we are designed to love learning.