Learning how to learn @ school
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.”
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” 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 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”.
While, Guy Claxton has drawn attention to the occurrence of “taughtitis” in young opinion 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. 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.
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.
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, 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.
To know more or to join this program “ Learning How to Learn @ School” please send a WhatsApp message to Prof. MM Pant at +919810073724.
Prof. M.M. Pant is a Ph.D. in Computational Physics and an academic with more than 50 years of post-doctoral teaching and research experience both in India and abroad. He has taught in leading Institutions in face to face, and distance and online modes including MOOCs. He is now exploring WhatsApp delivered mobile lifelong learning for future readiness as a framework that is named “Learning 321”: real learning and relevant education for the 3rd decade of the 21st century. His past roles include being the Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and being on the faculty of IIT, Kanpur, MLNR Engineering College and Faculty as well as Visiting Professor, University of Western Ontario, Canada. He has been a visiting scientist at European research centers in Italy, England, Germany and Sweden. Prof. Pant is the founder of the LMP Education Trust, an organization that supports new age learning and under privileged learners.