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What is learning?

What is learning? What is learning?

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  1. Learning is a very broad concept which is not restricted to the acquisition of knowledge, but involves, over an individual’s lifetime, the evolution of skills, insight, etiquette and experience.

    The routes through which learning can be achieved are numerous and unique; as such, there are important questions which the teacher (or instructor) must ask to make learning more effective and targeted. For example, does the learner prefer to work alone or with others? Does it take them a while to not only absorb information, but to remember and understand it? Is a lot of practice needed to consolidate the learning? What type of learning style is the most suitable? Is it one which is based upon visual aids, or is it verbal, mathematical, aural etc.? What resources are needed to ensure that learning is promoted?

    Considering the vast array of methods through which learning can be achieved, teachers may face issues with integrating all methods of learning into a single lesson such that every person can reach their full potential. Not only this, but as the video under “definition of learning” points out, teachers must be wary of creating an environment in which creativity, individual thought, and curiosity are stifled.

  2. In this post Lyndsey Eggison wrote:

    In this post Leila Rasheed wrote:

    Is learning a different thing depending on what we are learning? Eg. is learning English (as studied in school) different to learning Maths (as studied in school)?
    For that matter, is learning Maths as studied in a school in, say, Spain, different from learning Maths as studied in a school in England? I don't just mean the content, but the actual nature of learning.

    In response to the above I think as stated below learning is certainly individualistic, And is unique to each learner. Therefore I would certainly agree that learning is different per subject and in different countries . I think the process of learning such as the classroom lay out or the method of delivery of lessons will be similar but he learning itself different. 


    To some extent I agree with Leila and Lyndsey; learning is not the same for every individual. This is evident from people opting to learn in different environments (e.g. at school, work, home, on the job etc.), and preferring to learn through different means (repetition, practice, visual aids, talking etc.). However, I am not so sure that I agree with learning being different for each subject.

    Would a person who has an affinity for learning through speaking out loud not still have that affinity when learning both Maths and English? Should the teacher(s) not be responsible for adapting their teaching style to make sure that the student can learn through the method which suits them most? The tools that a teacher uses to ensure that this is possible for their subject may differ, and it may be harder to promote a particular learning style with some subjects than others, but that does not necessarily mean that learning is different for each subject. However, you learn different skills in Maths compared to English. As learning is also about the acquisition of new skills, not just the method through which this is achieved, learning can differ between subjects.

  3.  Learning (1) is a training of the brain to reprond to stimuli, eg "I touch a hot plate - it burns - ow! - do not touch hot plates again", a simple behavioural response that the cavemen would have experienced.

    Learning (2) is about satisfying curiosity, teaching is about provoking that curiosity. "Why does that happen?" "What happens if I do/say this?"! and then absorbing and analysing the response from teacher/parent/etc.

    Learning (3) is being taught (or told of, if in a less formal environment), unfamiliar concepts and theories, which may not have occurred naturally.

    It is an appreciation of the universe around us and the drive to understand


  4. Learning is the acquisition and consolidation of knowledge and skills. However, this does not simply pertain to the learner's ability to memorise or rote learn certain pieces of information. Learning is the ability to analyse and draw conclusions from pieces of information in order to have a greater or novel understanding of ideas and concepts. It is therefore important that teachers guide learners towards their own conclusions and deductions, instead of spoon-feeding them information. 

  5. Learning is the acquisition of skills and knowledge through teaching or self-exploration.   Learning can happen at any age and the speed of learning depends on the motivation of the learner. 

  6. In this post Beatrix Dooey wrote:

    Learning is the acquisition of new knowledge or skills through interaction with others, whether that be by being taught by a teacher, observing, or self-taught. 

    Teachers need to consider all the different stages of their pupils learning and how each individual learns best and in what environment. Differentiation must be taken into account to achieve effective learning.

    Differentiation can make teaching difficult as the teacher must be able to direct the learning intentions for each lesson to each stage of development all of the children are at. This may make pace, timing and work load hard to plan, therefore the teacher must be able to adapt the lesson in the moment.

    However by using different techniques in their lessons educators are able to teach using a variation of techniques in order for all students to learn.


    I like that fact that you included differentiation. In my experience, as the father of a gifted child, I have seen first hand how hard it was for some teachers to differentiate work for the more able pupils and how detrimental this is on the gifted child. The flip side is also true, a teacher who caters for the more able (or less able) child provides the pupil with a chance to feel good about themselves because the teacher is seen to care.

  7. I think that learning is surrounded by the instinct to try something new, if you don't try new things how will you learn how to do them and whether you enjoy them?

    Trying things in different ways will allow us to understand how we best learn for ourselves, which maybe difficult as teacher, because in order to be effective and get the whole class learning, you may need to adapt lessons and sessions to allow visual learners to learn and reach the same standard as that of pupils who prefer repettitive activities to learn and retain the knowledge. It's a great thing for us as student learners, because we're trying that "something new" in the classroom and reflecting and learning as to what went well and what didn't work as well for us. This'll eventually allow us to learn and develop our teaching skills.

  8. In this post Jake Wood wrote:

    I find it hard to define learning itself, but it is the process taking place in people (or animals) which results in a change of understanding or behaviour. 


    I wouldn't say that it is the change of behaviour, it may change the way of thinking in a student but I'm not sure about the behaviour itself. If you learn a new language for example, how would that affect the child's behaviour? I would say that it's more towards the understanding side, as they can take this skill and use it not only out of the classroom, but around the world.


  9. Learning can be defined in simple terms as “the acquisition and application of knowledge, behaviours, and/or skills”. The learning process is usually facilitated by someone with greater experience of the subject matter than the learner, such as a teacher, parent, or role model.

    Constructivism sees the learner as a processor of information, a passive receiver of knowledge delivered by the teacher. Vygotsky’s theory of Social Constructivism is an expansion of this theory and incorporates the importance of others in the learning process.

    Behaviourism theory dictates that a child will learn by responding to environmental stimuli. For example: a child that scolds themselves on a boiling kettle will learn not to touch the kettle whilst switched on. The negative stimulus of the pain received alters the child’s behaviour.

    A combination of these theories will enable the teacher to diversify their teaching and differentiate between pupils of different developmental stages. By considering the prior knowledge of the learner and scaffolding where necessary, a teacher can tailor the curriculum to the individual learners needs, however this can become problematic when teaching large classes, as it can become quite time consuming.

  10. I believe that learning never stops. I don't think we ever allow ourselves to become complacent and accept that we "know enough" or get stuck in a rut. Learning is the acquisition of new skills, ideas and a means to, in some cases, challenge your beliefs. Because of this, learning is an individual experience for every student, as part of it is formed of prior experiences and knowledge.

  11. I would define learning as the acquisition of capability which was previously lacking. It need not be "knowledge" per se, although if we torture our definition of "knowledge" we can probably make it stretch to cover "knowing how to do a thing" and thus say that acquiring the capability to do a thing is "acquiring the knowledge of how to do it". I would resist the temptation to do this, however, because there are many things that one might "know how to do" at an intellectual level without actually being able to do them at a practical level. Thus, for instance, I may study an ice skating manual which describes in detail the edge work required to perform, say, a salchow. I may even be able to recall and reproduce a perfect description of the edge work required to perform a salchow as part of a written examination. But I would not be able to put on a pair of skates, go out onto the ice and perform a salchow simply from having read the manual. Hence, although I may have acquired knowledge of how to perform a salchow, I would not yet have learned to perform a salchow.

    Learning to perform a salchow requires not just the acquisition of knowledge how to, but the actual acquisition of the capability actually to do it.

  12. For me, learning at its simplest form is; experiencing a new challenge and coming out stronger/more knowledgeable on the other side. Be that from completing the challenge or failing. As educators, it is our responsibility to create and safe and accessible environment for this to happen in.  

  13. Learning is the active engagement of exploring and retaining new knowledge. Once the knowledge is retained, it is about utilizing it, applying it to situations and experiencing it in context, to further enhance the knowledge. The process of this forms a cycle, which enforces the idea of "people are always learning". However, applying it to the classroom, it must be appreciated that all learner's retain knowledge in ways that suit the individual, therefore it is the teacher's job to implement these styles to enable effective learning. In a society where teachers are experiencing pressure from work overload, a problem with the expectancy of teacher tailoring the learning to each individual is unrealistic, due to the time restriction in an average lesson and the teacher to pupil ratio. Having said this, recognising that learner's do have different techniques of learning, the teacher is able to tailor the lesson to meet the majority, allowing extra time to suit the remainder of pupils learning techniques.

    To summarise, it can be said that learning is the process of gaining and retaining knowledge in a way that suits the individual.

  14. I say that learning is finding out about things you didn’t know before, be this knowledge or the ability ‘to do something’ (a skill). The most effective learning has taken place when the student understands the subject at the end, however this is not always the case!
    Although there are many theories about how students learn, I would tend to agree with Vygotsky’s idea of social constructivism. To me, learning is the process of learning by having a student having a subject shared with them by a more knowledgeable other, such as a teacher. However, learning is also a very individual process (in much wider terms than just whether students are kinaesthetic, auditory or visual learners, learning can also be influenced by areas of personal interest and whether they prefer to learn in groups or alone, for example). Learning also takes place when students are able to continue to share their own developed knowledge with their peers, through explaining or discussing topics. It’s also important to relate human learning to animal learning, and analyse whether there are ways we can take inspiration from this in our work!

  15. In this post Will Hobson wrote:

    I believe that learning never stops. I don't think we ever allow ourselves to become complacent and accept that we "know enough" or get stuck in a rut. Learning is the acquisition of new skills, ideas and a means to, in some cases, challenge your beliefs. Because of this, learning is an individual experience for every student, as part of it is formed of prior experiences and knowledge.

    Great point, learning is a continuous process and we shouldn't just apply learning theories etc to the students we teach, but to us as well!


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