If you can define learning to learn, you are the boss of your own learning!
How do we learn to deal with whatever life has in store for us?
Parents and teachers invest time and effort in teaching children to learn reading, writing, maths, science, history, music, art, sports and many other subjects. According to Wikipedia, learning is "the process of acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviours, skills, values, or preferences".
In contrast to learning, there is an ability called learning to learn and this ability can be described as a holistic ability to deal with whatever life has in store for us.
Learning to learn, simply put, is a competency that improves our ability to learn other skills and strategies. The development of this competency, or holistic ability, rests on three key principles.
If children learn to learn, they will love learning and the world will be a happier place for them because they will be moving forward all the time; and, you can teach this ability to children.
It is possible to compare learning to learn with learning and learning to study - three different skills.
Choosing the best strategies to improve our learning: learning to study
If you know your child’s preference is to learn together with a friend, wouldn’t you facilitate that they study together with their friends? Studying together with others is a strategy that works because people remember what they teach others and children learn more when they help each other. Knowing this fact, you would ensure that your child is studying together with other children, wouldn't you?
Learning involves choosing strategies that make learning easier for us.
How do you learn? Through visuals, listening or reading? For some, learning might mean watching YouTube videos for answers. For others, it’s listening to podcasts. Or, reading and taking notes in the quiet study hall of a library.
Learning to learn is more than the ability to choose the right strategies for studying or learning
Let’s take as an example something every child must learn in school. Teaching times tables can be a daunting experience, but there are many strategies that can help with this: reading the times tables out loud and repetition, visual representations of multiplications and posters, physical representations such as blocks and practical activities, times tables games, songs, worksheets, learning by reciting and chanting the times tables forwards and backwards, quizzes and competitions and other strategies.
There you are, helping a student or your child study with their favourite strategies to learn the times tables. Let’s say the strategy they prefer is playing times tables games online and competing with a friend, and you are making this happen.
What else could parents, carers or teachers do so that this child is learning not only times tables, but they are also learning to learn in general, they are learning to become the boss of their own learning? A boss who can deal successfully with whatever life throws at them?
The interesting question here is whether choosing the right strategies for the child to learn to play an instrument or memorize multiplication tables, for instance, or any other subject or task will guarantee their success in life? Or, is there anything else we should know about learning?
Could learning to learn be the ability to monitor our own learning?
Research demonstrates that the ability to monitor our own thinking and learning can lead to learning success across subjects. Students who believe they can succeed academically have higher motivation and persistence in learning tasks. In addition, students who are taught "that learning changes the brain by forming new neurological connections and that students are in charge of this change process" work harder and make greater learning gains than do their peers in control groups. (Source: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct14/vol72/num02/£The-Boss-of-My-Brain£.aspx)
More to come about the three key principles of learning to learn in PARTS TWO and THREE.
For more info please visit www.talktogetherlondon.org and Get in Touch.