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The hazards of accellerated learning - Peter Hentges

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January 10th, 2006


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04:04 am - The hazards of accellerated learning
So I'm in class for using our new Word tools on the Hartford work we do. The class is broken down into four days of work. I finished the first day's work about half-way through the first day. I would have finished earlier, except the class materials that were handed out didn't have the location of the data files we're working on in them. Once the class caught up to that point, I'd read the rest of the first day's information and whipped through the exercises.

Looking through the next three days' agendas, I'll likely whip through those as well.

I think this mode of learning that I have (Read, Do, Understand, Move On) was ingrained in me early in my education when I was identified as "gifted." It was expected that I learned things quickly so things weren't often repeated. In this, what I assume is more "normal," training class, we went over a lot of material that I think is unnecessary like what are these documents we're typesetting? who is The Hartford? why move to these Word tools? I would be OK without the class at all, really, as nothing we're doing is particularly new or difficult. Run some different macros, use a bit more of Word's capabilities that we typically do. Piece of cake.

At the same time, sitting just behind me in class is someone for whom this class is perfect. She's not as comfortable with Word as I am and doesn't have the experience with the tools we've grafted on to it that I do. So the slower pace suits her and I can see where it makes sense that she has the difficulties she does. The instructor's instructions sometimes assume pieces of knowledge that she doesn't possess. My presence in class may be causing her to rush, because I look bored most of the time and that pace would be too much for my co-worker. And it's not that she's unintelligent, she participates in competitive Scrabble, for example, so it's just a difference in style.

So it leaves me wondering: how much of my learning style is learned? Could it be that I deal OK with less information because that is how I was taught after scoring well on standardized tests at an early age? Would identifying learning styles and catering instruction to match them throughout primary and secondary education lead everyone to deal with new information as quickly as I do? That is, if people become aware of their learning style, can they adapt to information presented in non-optimal modes so that they can absorb it at higher rates? (Are there learning styles for which speed of absorption is a bad thing?)
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From:jrittenhouse
Date:January 10th, 2006 11:05 am (UTC)
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There are all sorts of learning styles, because people have all sorts of heads, maladapted as they may have been due to this, that and the other. I learn best at a pace that suits my uptake level for whatever the task; make it too fast if it's hard, and I lose interest trying to follow after a while. I have to have a medium-level grok of what's going on at all times.
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From:barondave
Date:January 24th, 2006 12:00 am (UTC)
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Forgive the late comment...

Leaning styles that reference learning styles are a meta-teaching tool that (surprise!) works sometimes and doesn't work at other times. Basically, the student has to be aware of the process of learning. And want to change. It's possible to do, but rarely possible (or even advisable) on the fly. You need a separate class for this sort of thing.

I tried to slip learning styles into my classrooms, mostly by being sneaky ("This is how you get the really good paying jobs, then work your way up to being the boss") and trying to get them to think like a computer... or at least point out that the logic in computer language was not necessarily the logic they were using to figure it out.

What you're talking about is not a particularly new thought. Or new teaching strategy. On the other hand, be aware that not all subjects work well with the learning style you're proposing. Hmm... rather than me go on, do a Google Search... "teaching strategies" or "modalities of thought" or somesuch.

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