‘Learning How to Learn @School’
The NEP 2020 proposes a complete overhaul of the school system with rote learning being replaced by strategies to help the child “ learn how to learn”. That was stated about 2 years back, in the pre-Covid era.
We saw that during the last two years, the absence of the skill of self-learning has impeded the learning opportunities of a large number of School going children, leading to “ learning poverty” ( https://centralsquarefoundation.org/articles/learning-poverty-world-bank-new-kind-facing-india-children-reading-foundational-skills.html) as evidenced by various National and global surveys.
It seems that the most important and urgent need for School goers is inculcating in all and as fast as possible, the skill of “ learning how to learn”.
Thomas Frey, a futurist (https://fb.watch/ayuF-MqK9J/) while speaking on the future of education stated “If we continue to insert a teacher in between us and everything we need to learn, we cannot possibly learn fast enough to meet with the demands of the future”.
Guy Claxton ( https://youtu.be/JxWybvns1jg ) has drawn attention to the occurrence of “taughtitis” in young school goers as an unintended side effect of the present model of instructor led teaching.
Where there is no doctor, a very widely used book, was created for those parts of the world, where physicians are not available and diseases are rampant, until better solutions are created. It is based on the belief that people should take the lead in their own health care. While the first edition was published in 1970s,the English edition was published in 1992. We now have a similar situation of “ when there is no teacher” for millions of prospective learners which is driving the need for better equipped self-directed learners.
Yuval Noah Harari in a short video draws attention to the emergence of a ‘useless’ class with obsolete skills and little possibility of acquiring the new in demand skills in a short time: https://youtu.be/OMDlfNWM1fA. The response to this warning is to “vaccinate” oneself and one’s children against ‘ uselessness’ in analogy to the vaccination against many diseases and now Covid. Learning to think ( critical thinking, creative thinking, computational thinking, design thinking) could be the booster dose. Learning how to learn will give the learner at School the ‘escape velocity’ to economic progress in the emerging knowledge economy.
Education has not evolved like some other disciplines such as Science, Technology or Management, nor have Educators positioned themselves as Professionals, like Doctors, Engineers or Lawyers. In the field of Medicine, for example, the outcomes of research are applied in practice to develop new protocols for healthcare, as we saw in the recent past in response to the Covid pandemic.
But educational models seem to remain enshrined in centuries old tradition, and educational practice remains unaffected by progress made in our understanding of how learning happens.
I have made an attempt to imagine what could the research in education and allied fields of cognitive psychology, Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence, and human behaviour, be informing us about the techniques and practices for becoming better more productive and confident self-directed learners, and warns us against prevailing study habits and practices that turn out to be counterproductive.
In view of the difficulties of such a program being delivered in person in a classroom, the program has been designed to be accessible through WhatsApp on a mobile phone. In situations, where Zoom is the preferred mode, this can be also delivered through Zoom or any other similar tool such as Google Meet, Microsoft Teams….
Where the conditions are conducive for usual classroom delivery, this can be delivered in the standard classroom manner.
The present education paradigm is based on a number of key ideas, which seem obvious, but have been found recently to be incorrect. We have seen this earlier in the paradigm shift from a geocentric to the heliocentric view of the planetary motions. The paradigm shift today is from the focus on teaching to the emphasis on learning. We assume a fixed mental capacity of learners and categorise them as Science- non medical, Science-medical, Commerce and Arts etc. based on their earlier performance in related subjects. We now know that the brain is capable of changing itself, ( https://youtu.be/VIdWFuuZaxw ) with the possibility that every learner has the potential of realising his or her dream.
This program is designed with students at the level of class 8 in mind, to be pursued over an academic year. Students who are already in class 9 or class 10, could do an ‘accelerated’ version of this, and complete it in about 6 months ( a semester or a term). Those students who are in classes 11 and 12 could do an ‘intensive’ version and do this over 3 months. Thus whole school coverage can be obtained rather swiftly.
The program is structured as 10 modules, with each module being made of 4 units. Each unit is further made of 3 sessions, with each session being about 40 minutes of learning. There will be a total of 120 sessions adding up to about 80 hours of learning.
Even a genius like Isaac Newton acknowledged that I have been able to see further than others, because I stood on the shoulders of giants. As I have stated earlier, I have drawn upon the insights and ideas of great scholars and thought leaders to construct my model. There are too many of them to acknowledge all, but I am listing here 15 books from which I have drawn inspiration. They are listed here ( in alphabetical order of first name):
Books that have been relied upon for creating this program:
1: Alistair McConville, Barbara Oakley, and Terry Sejnowski: Learning How to Learn
2: Angela Duckworth : Grit
3: Benedict Carey : How we learn? The surprising truth about When, where and how
4: Blake Boles: The Art of Self-Directed Learning: 23 Tips for Giving Yourself an Unconventional Education
5: Carol S Dweck: Mindsets: the new Psychology of success
6: Dr Dheeraj Mehrotra : The 200 habits of highly effective learners: Making Learning a Habit
7: Guy Claxton : The Learning Power approach
8: Howard Gardiner : Changing Mindsets
9: Jo Boellers: Mathematical mindsets
10: Norman Doidge: The Brain that changes itself
11: PeterC Brown, Mark A McDaniel, Henry L Roediger III : Make it Stick : The Science of successful learning
12: Peter Hollins : The Science of Self-Learning
13: Sanjay Sarma and Luke Yoquinto : Grasp: The Science transforming how we learn
14: Scott H Young: Ultralearning
15: Stephen Covey : The 7 habits of highly effective people
Here is the detailed flow of the program in modules and units that has come about. Each unit comprises 3 sessions of about 40 minutes learning. The 120 sessions are not listed here:
Module 1: Self-learning: the most important 21st Century skill?
Unit 1.1: Drivers of self-learning
Unit 1.2: Examples of well known self-learners
Unit 1.3: Mindsets and other barriers to learning
Unit 1.4: Stephen Covey’s habits of successful people
Module 2: Discipline : a key to learning success
Unit 2.1: Motivation
Unit 2.2: Procrastination
Unit 2.3: Time Management
Unit 2.4: To Learn lists
Module 3: Habits fostering success
Unit 3.1: Grit
Unit 3.3: Habits of successful learners
Unit 3.4: Dispositions of unsuccessful learners
Module 4: Techniques to becoming a better learner
Unit 4.1: Gagne’s steps of Instruction:
Unit 4.2: The Feynman technique
Unit 4.3: Chunking of content
Unit 4.4: Spaced repetition
Module 5: Mind maps for better understanding
Unit 5.1: What are mindmaps?
Unit 5.2: Why do mindmaps help in better understanding
Unit 5.3: How to draw mindmaps
Unit 5.4: Alternative ways of organising information
Module 6: Learning with MOOCs
Unit 6.1: The origin of MOOCs
Unit 6.2: Well-known MOOCs
Unit 6.3: SQ3R technique for effective learning
Unit 6.4: Navigating MOOCs
Module 7: AI powered apps for learning
Unit 7.1: Speech to text and text to speech
Unit 7.2: Automatic Machine Translation
Unit 7.3: Duolingo
Unit 7.4: Other AI based learning Apps
Module 8: Social Learning
Unit 8.1: Importance of Social Learning
Unit 8.2: Effective Social Learning
Unit 8.3: Learning with Social Media
Unit 8.4: Switching between Social learning and individual learning
Module 9: Building Learning Power
Unit 9.1: What is Learning Power?
Unit 9.2: Why developing Learning Power is so critical?
Unit 9.3: Building Learning Power
Unit 9.4: Learning Power: a vaccine against ‘uselessness’
Module 10: Unusual aspects of Learning
Unit 10.1: Learning while asleep
Unit 10.2: Ultralearning
Unit 10.3: Types of content: fact, concept, process
Unit 10.4: Levels of autonomous Learners
While recognizing the need for teaching School children to “ learn how to learn” is one thing, designing and delivering an engaging program is another. I have tried to do this and I am happy to share this first version of the program. In due course, this may evolve to be the number one choice of all school goers.
To know more or to join this program “ Learning How to Learn @ School” please send a WhatsApp message to Prof. MM Pant at +919810073724.