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A student-friendly learning approach

Teaching Methods

Deccan Herald

30 April, 2013

Thankfully, classroom teaching has moved on from linear approach to a self-exploratory approach, writes N N Prahallada.

For long, teacher-led child education is in existence where takes the responsibility for the learning environment. A child is completely dependent on the teachers’ knowledge and expertise. The idea of the child as a blank canvas or blank page was and is prevalent.

Our education systems have been based on the assumptions that the individual mind is a clean slate at birth, the world is a buzzing confusion, and that concepts and causal relations are inferred from associations of stimuli.  In this paradigm, learning  has to be organized by others who make the appropriate associations and generalizations on behalf of the learner.

Education is seen as a pedagogic relationship between the teacher and learner. It was always the teacher who decided what the learner needed to know, and indeed, how the knowledge and skills should be taught.

Success was based on attending to narrow stimuli presented by a teacher, an ability to remember that which is not  understood, and repeated rehearsal.

However, in the past thirty years or so, there has been quite a revolution in education through research into how people learn, and resulting from that, further work on how teaching could and should be provided.

It may be said that the rapid rate of change in society, and the so called information explosion, suggest that we should now be looking at an educational approach where it is the learner who determines what and how learning should take place.

The new approach, termed as heutagogy as against pedagogy, specific emphasis is placed on learning how to learn, double loop learning, universal learning opportunities, a non-linear process, and true learner self-direction. All learning contexts, both formal and informal, are considered. The mentor helps for modification of existing knowledge and creation of new knowledge.

In this approach to teaching and learning, learners are highly autonomous and self-determined and emphasis is placed on development of learner capacity and capability with the goal of producing learners who are well prepared for the complexities of contemporary workplace.

Learning is an active process in which individuals either seek out education and experiences or obtain feedback and evaluate as they move through life’s experiences. The teacher here takes a back seat and becomes a learner like everyone else enabling people to become learners who are capable of finding solutions to problems on their own or question as and when required.

Capability building of individuals is possible through this process. Capable people are those who know how to learn, are creative, have a high degree of self-efficacy, can apply competencies in novel as well as familiar situations and can work  well with  others. Developing capable people requires innovative approaches to learning.

This approach recognizes the need to be flexible in the learning where the teacher provides resources but the learner designs the actual course by negotiating the learning. Thus learners might read around critical issues or questions and determine what is of interest and relevance to them and then take up further reading and assessment tasks.

Thus, assessment becomes more of a learning experience rather than a means to measure attainment.

Teachers should concern themselves with developing the learner’s capability, and not just enforcing discipline-based skills and knowledge

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