Saturday, October 9, 2010

If learning is based on experience...

I really enjoyed chapter 3: Rethinking Learning Theory Within the Online Class. It raised many significant points and a few questions for me. Not being a trained educator, but coming to mentoring and teaching from industry, I never gave learning theory much of a thought. I loved what I did, was asked to teach it and how I did it, and a teacher was born. Reading Bender's theories and her descriptions of Blooms taxonomy, Gardiner and Dewy's theories fascinate me.

What especially gave me pause was the idea that if shared thinking in a group leads to socially constructed meaning, than we as a group either accept that meaning or we reject it. We have the opportunity to create a new meaning if the experiences of the group support a new conclusion. Our experiences of the world will determine our thoughts and conclusions, because thought cannot exist in isolation from the real world. Thought itself is a construct based on other constructs. So if you break that down into component pieces, you can reform it, like a jigsaw puzzle to create a new idea or thought, or shape. Like an art work. I love that.

For example, I teach creative entrepreneurial strategies to artists. It involves knowledge - giving them information to memorize such as the types of outlets for their work and where they are located, comprehension - understanding how the art world works though discussion of its rules and customs; application comes in when they then take that information and create a marketing packet to introduce their work to that market; analysis - based on their prior steps figuring out which is the right market and identifying good fit partners; synthesis - creating a strategy that can include traditional markets and new alternative exhibition opportunities instead based on what they've learned about the art world and its restrictions, and then evaluation - they judge what is right and wrong with the market, the value of their work in each market, and how can they individually or in a group create new ones.

What I found surprising in the reading was learning that knowledge did not imply understanding, they were separate pieces. And a good teacher needs to be aware of how her students think to impact their learning. So if I am teaching alternative strategies for artist's career paths, I have to know how they view the current state of the market, if they value it or not, or I cannot impress on them the need to be creatively alternative. To be creatively alternative, and an entrepreneur is part of the class, so that information would be important. I hadn't thought of it before.

Dewy's ideas came out in 1910! That blows me away. I especially loved "think about a new idea, experiment with it, experience what is occurring, and reflect on the process" - that is active learning. I find that to be really exciting, and can see how that could happen in the online class I'm designing on meditation and career planning. The more I reflect on it, the more excited I get. I look forward to using that as a formula for my upcoming class in Career Mysticism.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rhonda,
    Thanks for sharing about your work experiences. I, too, find myself working as a trainer without having had prior training in adult learning theory. But reading your blog made me think about how I often structure my training format to be analysis-to-action, where I present key ideas and principles, and then ask the participants to practice them. Yet learning also happens as action-to-analysis (as in both of our work experiences), where activities are planned to stimulate thinking, and then participants are guided in gathering the key ideas and principles. Perhaps the latter is more like real-life? Although I am a person that craves knowing the principles (the structure) upfront. But then where would the risk-taking be?

    Thanks again for the insightful post!