What, How and Why should I learn?

Guest post Oct 31, 2018

To learn anything effectively. There are two things to be considered:

  1. What is the purpose of learning it.
  2. What is the simplest way to explain it.

As an eminent educator said, “If you can’t explain a concept in simple words, then you have not understood it enough”. Well that is a challenge to a whole educator community, looking at the ways how we explain abstract concepts to kids.

The three questions to be asked about any concepts are:

WHAT is the concept – The terms in it, the knowledge part of it.

WHY is the concept to be learned – It could have a direct application or could be applied to understand a higher concept.

HOW are you applying the concept – What are steps to applying this concept? Breakdown of the application in simple steps is very important to understand a concept.

The more we understand the WHY part of a concept, in our day to day lives, the more chances are that we'll think about the concept in its vaguest ways and know how to apply it. It creates the relevance to the content, which is very much important to learn a concept.

The concept learning can be further subdivided into 3 phases

  • The concrete understanding of the concept – A hands on activity to explain the application of the concept.
  • The pictorial understanding of the concept – Kids draw figures to explain the application of the concept.
  • The abstract understanding of the concept – Here the kids jot down the application in numbers and formulas, as they are expected to reproduce in their exams.

The three phases are very helpful in deep learning in terms of reinforcement of the concept again and again. Also the type of learners that it caters to. It can be understood by a large group of students, rather than a few learning in abstract method.

  • The CONCRETE way is for the hands on learner or the children with BODILY-KINESTHETIC INTELLIGENCE.
  • The PICTORIAL way is for the visual learner or the children with VISUAL-SPATIAL INTELLIGENCE.
  • The ABSTRACT way is for the logical learner or the children with the LOGICAL-MATHEMATICAL INTELLIGENCE.

No child is restricted to any one type of intelligence, but they are more inclined to one of the intelligences. So it taps into their various types of intelligences and helps them explore other ways of exploring/learning a concept.

And to make it even more productive and efficient. Help your students/child understand this, learn this and explain it to you or to the rest of the class.

It is not about easing the job of the teacher. And believe me it takes a lot more patience, and expertise and effort to make a child understand the dynamics of the class, arrest the attention of the students and be well versed in the topic he is going to present. But those topics stay with them to a great extent of their lives. They learn how to learn something by themselves and how to guide someone to understand it.

“They are not empty vessels to be filled, they are fires to be kindled”, teaching is a long forgotten story. Nowadays classrooms should be spaces for open conversation, debates, posing questions, problem solving, critical thinking. And all these can’t be taught, they are practiced and learnt by doing it.

Teacher is a mere facilitator and guide to make sure that his students are in the right track, for it is very easy to get lost in this age of information explosion.

This is a word not only to educators, but also to parents and my very curious little minds that are eager to own up things. It’s just we who are skeptical about what SHOULD be done and what CAN be done.

-Jose Kuriakose, Dept. of Mathematics, Glendale Academy International School