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Sunday, 12 January 2014

Lifelong learning



I have always classed myself as a lifelong learner I even have the statement as part of my Twitter and Pinterest profiles. 

So what is a lifelong learner? Well the dictionary definition is: 

Lifelong learning is the "ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated" pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. A learning approach that can be used to define lifelong learning is heutagogy. 

 Heutagogy definition is:

Heutagogy places specific emphasis on  learning how to learndouble loop learning,universal learning opportunitiesa non-linear process, and true learner self-direction. So, for example, whereas andragogy focuses on the best ways for people to learn, heutagogy also requires that educational initiatives include the improvement of people's actual learning skills themselves, learning how to learn as well as just learning a given subject itself. 

Very relevant for me because I am hugely interested in the workings of the brain and what helps us to learn. I think as we reach adulthood most of us think we have a pretty good idea of what type of learner we are or the conditions in which we prefer to learn. 

However, I do have to add that I think the way we learn and our preferred conditions for learning are always evolving. The brain isn't fixed for life so neither is the way we learn. At the grand age of 52 I am still discovering, acknowledging how I learn. Perhaps this is because back in the 70s and 80s when I was in school how children learned was not really thought about and certainly never taught. As a result I think I genuinely didn't learn, or at least retain as much as I could have. Maybe that's one of the things that led me to teaching and also leaves me, at my age with a thirst for knowledge. 

So for me everyday is a learning opportunity. Yesterday I learned all about seahorses and brown bears whilst reading to my grandson. One of the facts that I retained was that the name for seahorses eggs is fry. The reason it stuck was that I associated it with something, the phrase 'small fry' A light went on in my head, 'so that's where that phrase comes from!' Association is a good way that works for me of retaining information. 

Another way of learning and retaining information I think is 'using and applying'. This was highlighted to me after our last school inset day on MFL-German. As part of the day we were taught colours, numbers, greetings and animal names. I had learned them before and remembered the odd one but because I hadn't 'used' them since I did not remember most of them. 

My reflections on all of this as a teacher is to expose children to knowledge. Teach them, provide situations for them to discover, allow them time to apply what they learn and take into account different learning styles. 

As for Me I will keep seeking information and see each day as a learning opportunity!