Rebooted: The Learning Loop
I attended (and presented at) my first ever TeachMeet last Thursday. Before engaging with Twitter in July this year I’d never even heard of the phenomenon and now, in October, I am a passionate convert.
If you’ve never been to a TeachMeet or, if like me a few months ago, you’ve never even heard of them then quite simply it’s a bunch of teachers getting together to share some ideas. TMClevedon was the third such event organised by Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist) at Clevedon School in North Somerset and was a pretty slick affair. The tables were covered in linen clothes, there was amazingly tasty free food on offer and of course there were some top quality education types presenting ideas on all sorts of interesting stuff. Mark has posted about all of them on his blog including a write up of my presentation on the Learning Loop.
I first wrote about the Learning Loop back in July but since then we’ve delivered it to a new cohort of students and as well as having grown in scope, some of the thinking which underpins it is a bit clearer to me. Particularly after reading Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel Willingham.
The problem is this: as teachers we want students to think. But as Willingham points out. “the brain is not designed for thinking.” Instead, he claims, it’s designed to avoid having to think about stuff my dipping into long term memory whenever possible. Thus when we learn to drive it takes enormous concentration but then after a few months of regular driving it’s become second nature and we can experience that mildly troubling sensation of having travelled for the last 50 miles with no conscious memory of it. Our ability to solve complex problems automatically without having to think about them is incredible.
So, one solution to getting students to undertake work which requires complex problem solving is to get them to learn how to do so by rote. The only issue with this is that although scientists have proved rote learning is an incredibly effective way to learn stuff it’s also a huge turn off and if we attempt it in the classroom students very quickly become demotivated. The Learning Loop is a way of getting students to repeat and therefore learn complex skill sets without it becoming boring.
Here’s a link to the presentation I showed at #TMClevedon: