This is the question that I ask myself and will always ask myself. Now that I am in my 20th year of education, I still have not figured out the most optimal way for me to learn and retain information. Although, I think I am close in finding the answer for myself. But even after I manage to answer, “What is learning?” will my answer apply to anyone else? Probably not because everyone learns information differently. That is one of the reasons why I am in this class. Throughout this semester, I want to learn about new methods of teaching, as well as develop an understanding of the debates that occur in the pedagogy field.
For me, experiential learning, or “hands-on” learning is the best way for me to learn, which I why I enjoy research so much. In research, we sometimes make mistakes, which is mostly fine; except in some circumstances, the consequences of making a mistake while working on a research project is higher than making a mistake in a class. In a class, I might get docked a couple points on an assignment or a test that is worth a fraction of my grade. Therefore, I feel the need to know everything before I start a research project. I wonder if others feel this way about learning and weighing different educational priorities in their life.
Watching “What Baby George Taught me about Learning” actually made me think about my journey through the systematic education system that we have in the United States. I was a pretty lousy “learner” all throughout K-12 and undergrad. I hated studying and memorizing concepts for tests. If I was presented with the option of studying for a test or sleeping, I would sleep. I never felt the urge to study everything before a test and would often go into tests unprepared. I was better at presentations and papers; however, my science major did not have many classes like this because the classes had too many students. This also makes me wonder, how can we integrate this type of “hands-on” learning to large classes that everyone has to take? For example, this semester I am a TA for a senior level class with 200+ students. Maybe some of the students do really well with traditional lecture style classes but are they learning? or are they memorizing? And what about the students like me who do poorly in this type of education setting? Should they be docked points because they can’t conform to the traditional learning system?
I want to touch on blogging as well since we had readings related to blogging. I am one of those people who dread blogging. Sure it has many pros (mentioned in Tim Hitchcock’s article and Sam Godin and Tom Peters’ video) such as serving as platforms for debates, establishing public positions, and improving writing skills, but I just can’t get myself to do it. I am an awful debater and I avoid conflict as often as possible. I do not like seeing or being a part of online debates or “Twitter Wars” because they often get really nasty. If I were given the opportunity to debate a scientist in my field I would do it. I just do not feel comfortable taking a side in issues that I do not fully understand. There is a part of me that always believes that I probably will not fully understand everything, even topics that I research about. I feel like there is always someone who will know more about a topic than I do and that they are more qualified to speak about it than I will. Another reason is that I feel like my writing is not great; therefore, I need to practice before I publically write anything. Or else someone may call me out and say something like “this person is not credible because her grammar is awful.” These barriers prevent me from blogging or tweeting publically.
With this being said, I am excited to work with all of you this semester! I want to learn about new perspectives of teaching, which will help me shape the way I view learning. Perhaps I will learn new techniques to help me help my 200+ students in the class that I am a TA for.