Learning is hard work. If something feels easy to learn it usually means that we haven’t learned it very well. Anything worth learning takes hard work. Not the hard work of memorization, but the hard work of learning.
Given the technological advances in the world today, we all feel that learning should be easier. If we watch a building being built today and think about the time and resources that would have been required 200 years ago, we see how technological advances have changed how we work.
Learning is different.
When it comes to learning to think, technology can make things easier, but traditional education doesn’t use technology for learning. Traditional education uses technology for teaching.
How can technology make learning to think easier? We don’t have to remember everything about a subject in order to learn to think about something. We have brilliant technology that allows us to find out information almost immediately that we can then learn to incorporate into our thinking.
Traditional educators decry the dependence on Google for learners today. I hear it all the time. “Students think learning is looking something up on Google!”. The reason that students think that looking something up on Google equals learning is because education has become nothing more than remembering information. You don’t need to remember information if it is at your fingertips.
Memorizing the evolution of attentional theories seems like a very poor use of learning time and resources. Likewise, having to know, from memory, how to carry out a Pearson’s r calculation by hand serves absolutely no purpose in today’s world – in spite of those who would argue otherwise. Look at the research in the area. Of course, the inability to self-correct based on evidence is one of those skills that are left out in order to accommodate the stuff that needs memorizing.
How could we come to this?
Never before have we needed people with advanced cognitive enablers – the ones dealing with abstract thinking. Six of the top ten skills identified by employers as vital for the near future rely on a foundation of advanced cognitive enablers. Seventy-five million people with redundant skills and 133 million people needed with the ability to manipulate abstract concepts (among other skills).
However, the emphasis is still on memorizing stuff.
I have written, talked, cajoled, begged, and anything else you can think of to get higher education institutions to even begin to change what they do. I know that there are a few looking at changing, but they can be counted on one hand. Memorizing stuff is easier to teach, easier to measure, and doesn’t get in the way of the primary purpose of higher education.
I have used the principles underlying the Science of Learning for years and years. Through that experience, I have learned that we have somehow put the cart before the horse. Through learning to think, students learn about things. I regularly get communication from former students who tell me that the only “stuff” that they really remember from their university degrees is the stuff I taught them. Except, I don’t teach them any stuff. I teach them to think. At least as much as a single class in a single semester can teach anyone how to think. They get a taste, and as one of my students said to us in the class, “I’ve tasted thinking and I don’t want anything else.”
This is why I’ve founded Socelor. We desperately need people who can understand and manipulate abstract principles, but we don’t teach these skills anywhere. There are people who learn them, but they are few and far between. I also find that those who actually learn advanced cognitive enablers don’t fit in traditional organizations very well. Traditional organizations want people who fit, not people who think.
Have a look at what I’m doing and if you really want to learn come and experience real thinking. Learning to really think is the most wonderful learning experience. Taste it and nothing else will ever satisfy you again.