[Paleopsych] not smart enough (active learning)

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Fri Nov 4 02:48:39 UTC 2005

If you teach a man to fish, he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day

Todd I. Stark wrote:

>The loaded notion of "smart" or "not smart" aside for just a moment, I 
>wanted to address this notion of teaching people according to 
>information processing mode.
>I've seen it discussed in NLP and other  related sources, and always 
>been just a bit skeptical of it.  Not that I know for a fact that it is 
>completely wrong, though it seems rather weak to me at this point.  More 
>importantly, it does seem somewhat misguded to me in its intentions.  It 
>is based on a mechanistic notion of the brain and its learning 
>abilities, as if the human biocomputer were a simplistic multi-channel 
>transducer of some sort, with isolated channels. More current models of 
>brain function seem to acknowledge more active and wholistic human 
>talents and motivations.
>So personally, I like to envison adult competence as largely a matter of
>learning your own strengths and weaknesesses and finding strategies for
>making the best of your own talents.
>If people prefer information in a particular form, it is far more useful
>educationally in my opinion to teach them ways to translate between
>different kinds of information in their own manner, so they do not
>depend on the rest of the world to be presented in a particular format
>to them.  We know enough about the human brain to know that the  brain 
>doesn't store information for recall coded into different sensory 
>channels, it builds knowledge maps that make sense of situations in 
>context.  It does not make sense to solely try to present everything 
>someone is learning into some form that they may prefer.  That's like 
>encouraging a deaf person to only read signs and not lips.  It is hard 
>to find a humane justification for deliberately handicapping a person in 
>that manner in my opinion, unless there is no choice.
>The old chestnut about teaching a person to fish rather than throwing
>them a fish (or something like that :-)) comes to mind.   I think the
>model I am fishing for here is called "mastery learning" or sometimes 
>"active learning."
>I think if someone hasn't the neccessary talent for that form of active 
>learning, and can't aquire the skills, then it makes perfect sense to 
>conclude they have to learn in a less efficient manner such as spoon 
>feeding them in particular ways.  I think we should realistically 
>distinguish talent (and lack thereof) where it is truly meaningful to 
>outcomes, such as the capacity for self-directed learning and specific 
>teaching strategies.
>kind regards,
>Michael Christopher wrote on 11/2/2005, 8:12 PM:
>  > --I'm suspicious of claims people "aren't smart
>  > enough". More likely they are attempting to work
>  > within a system that doesn't match their mode of
>  > information processing. Kinesthetic modelers trying to
>  > adapt to a lecture format, for example. They may well
>  > want to serve, but have a problem adapting to the way
>  > information is presented.
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>paleopsych at paleopsych.org

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