Sunday, January 07, 2007

Research on Informal Learning

Have just come across this article on informal learning by Dr. Alan Thomas (thanks Fiona N). It's good to keep reminding myself why we are bothering to fight to protect this way of educating our children.

"In school, the curriculum determines the process of teaching and learning. It is structured logically in easily digestible steps in order to facilitate learning. Essentially, the job of the student is to follow a learning sequence that is predetermined. But when children learn informally, they seem to do the opposite and impose their own sequence on what they learn. Curriculum logic and child logic do not equate. Child logic is individual and determined by the complex and dynamic interplay between the child’s existing level of knowledge and incoming information, mediated by interest, motivation, curiosity or desire to take on a challenge.

"It’s as if each child has his or her own theory of learning. It is quite efficient because new knowledge and understanding are only assimilated when they extend existing knowledge. The converse equally contributes to the efficiency of informal learning – when new material is unlikely to dovetail into and extend knowledge or understanding it is discarded. This utterly contradicts conventional school learning in which students are expected to persevere when they do not comprehend, often acquiring no more than a superficial level of understanding, what has been called surface learning (Biggs, 1987). Informal learning therefore follows a kind of fuzzy and non-linear logic that is particular to each child. It has a parallel in the child’s acquisition of language, learned in a similar fashion and equally individualistic (Crystal, 1976). Perhaps informal learning is better suited to the innumerable connections and networks in the cerebral cortex. Whatever the case, it works, and without all the effort associated with formal learning as these two parents found."


Gill said...

Yes this explains perfectly the way my children learn.

It's also a potentially useful piece of rationale incase we're called to justify our educational methods.


Tibetan Star said...

HELP! my blog disappeared - any idea how to get it back?

Carlotta said...

Ouch, Paula, that's horrible.

Sadly, am definitely not the best person to ask. I can tell you that I can still get to: and view some texts though did this via bloglines, so it could be an old cache.

When I try to link directly, your blog template with links etc appears, but the text has gone in what looks like an html incident.

I have no idea how this could happen. Can you get into your manage/create post section? Is it possible that one could write off the all of one's posts on some sort of meta html moment??

Can you also get into blogger help?
I seem to remember they have something about this sort of incident there.

Tibetan Star said...

Sorted! What a relief!! I learned how attached I'm getting to my blog and I'm not sure if I like it. Anyway, I was trying to change the code on the template thingy and must have accidently deleted the part that gets the posts to appear. Then I had an idea and it worked, so I'm really happy at the moment!
Now I can relax and read your post properly.

Julie said...

Alan Thomas is doing more research on how children learn right now-he came to interview our children, who are all autonomously educated. they loved meeting him and chatting-I believe we could have talked for hours! We are eagerly awaiting the transcript and then reading about the results!

Carlotta said...

Wow, Julie, I hadn't quite twigged that this was happening! Fantastic. Would love to see the results asap, so will be keeping an eye out.