Learning, the act of gaining knowledge, is a craft unto itself. It starts with questions - the what ifs, how abouts, whys, . . . leading from the unknown to the known, through inquiry, experimentation, travel, and of course pure accident.

This is about how it happens in my life.

When does learning happen? Lessons from False Mastery

So I've just come across an interesting bit of research from a prof at Williams College,  via a newsletter I get called Cool News of the Day. It is published by Reveries.com , where you can also find The Hub Magazine, white papers, research and other interesting content related to marketing and spreading ideas. It's another one of those sources that I cannot for the life of me figure out how I learned of it.

Yesterday, Tim Manners at Cool News included an item about the disconnect between ease of learning and ease of remembering in False Mastery. On one hand it seems odd that learning can happen independently of remembering; however, I think this phenomenon can be understood by considering the differences between learning and knowledge.  Learning is how we gain knowledge, through instruction, experience, study etc; knowledge is learning made actionable.  There is no doubt in my mind that turning learning into knowledge entails the ability to remember.
What I find so, well, cool about the research mentioned in the post is that it neatly encapsulates what Andrew Carnegie is quoted as saying "Anything in life worth having is worth working for".  You see, it seems that when we have to work harder at learning something - even if it is just plain English words written in a hard to read font - our brains encode the material more readily.   And apparently this is the exact opposite of what we expect of ourselves when it comes to learning, memory and knowledge.  Check out the Nate Williams' faculty profile here.

The role and function of libraries ties into this kind of research so intimately, especially in regards to services to children and youth.   Study after study demonstrate the positive linkages between appropriately funded and staffed school library services with improved learning outcomes.  Libraries physically embody and virtually embrace learning and knowledge as an essential part of our culture.
I'd love to hear Nate talk about his research.   Librarianship really is the ultimate cross-disciplinary profession, best fostered by continuing to engage broadly with other areas of study.

No comments:

Post a Comment