Learning How to Learn @ School

‘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 3.2:Focus

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.

About mmpant

Prof. M.M.Pant has a Ph.D in Computational Physics, along with a Professional Law Degree, and has been a practitioner in the fields of Law, IT enabled education and IT implementation. Drawing upon his experience in world class international institutions and having taught in various modes of Face-to-Face, Distance Learning and Technology Enhanced Training, Prof. Pant is now exploring the nature of institutions which will be successors to the IITs, which represented the 1960s, IIMs, which represented the 1970 and Open Universities which were the rage of 1980s & 90s. He believes that the convergence between various media and technologies would fundamentally alter the way learning would be created, packaged, and delivered to learners. His current activities are all directed toward actual implementation of these new age educational initiatives that transform education in the post Internet post WTO era.. Prof. Pant, has been a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and has been on the faculty of IIT – Kanpur (the premier Engineering institution in India), MLNR Engineering College and Faculty & Visiting Professor - University of Western Ontario-Canada. He has been visiting scientist to research centers in Italy, England, Germany & Sweden and has delivered international lectures with about 80 papers published. During his association of almost 15 years with the IGNOU, Prof. Pant has served as the Director Computing and has been the Member of All Bodies (i.e. School boards, Academic council, Planning board, Finance committee and the Board of management). With his interest in Law, backed with practice of Law in a High Court, and his basic training in Science and IT, Prof. Pant has been particularly interested in the Cyber Law, Patent & trade mark issues, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues etc. and has been involved with many activities, conferences on “Law & IT” Prof. Pant is presently; • Advisor to Media Lab Asia - Chairman of working group on ICT for Education, chairman of PRSG handling projects on ICT for education. • Lead Consultant for an ADB funded project for ICT in Basic Education in Uzbekistan • Member of the drafting Group for India’s National Policy on ICT in education • Chairman of the group creating books for class 11 and 12 students on ‘Computers and Communication Technology’ appointed by the NCERT • Preparing a ‘Theme Paper” for the NCTE in the area of ICT and Teacher Training • Advisor and mentor to several leading Indian and Multi-national Companies in the area of education. Prof. Pant has in the recent past been ; • Member – Board of Management – I I T, Delhi for 6 years (two consecutive terms) • One-man committee to create the Project Report & Legislation for Delhi IT-enabled Open University • Advisor to the Delhi Government on Asian Network of Major Cities Project (ANMC-21) distance learning project in association with Tokyo Metropolitan Government. • Chairman Board of Studies, All India Management Association With his mission to create and implement new business opportunities in the area of e-learning & learning facilitation, Prof. Pant has promoted Planet EDU Pvt. Ltd., as its Founder & Chairman, along with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals from Education & Training, Operations, IT and Finance.
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