Have you ever heard of or maybe even remember the popular children’s books of “Dr. Seuss,” a.k.a. Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991)? It was he who wrote: “It is better to know how to learn than to know.”
Dr. Seuss made this profound statement way before the time of “How Technology Should be Used in the Classroom,” because this was long before the computer age. It clearly states what learning is all about, which is important to remember in respect to all learning, whether it was in antiquity or is now in the most advanced technology age. It very much also applies to the entire format of how society supplies education, so far mostly through person-to-person teaching in classrooms. But with the introduction of technology in and outside the classroom the modus is changing, in some instances dramatically.
Therefore, I think it’s high time to closely look at what really needs to be learned, and how the vast volume of knowledge we would like to have and use, can best be acquired. Here is the way:
What one really needs to learn and retain, one way or the other, are three things:
A. Language, no matter which one in particular, but preferably one that does provide access to that vast volume of knowledge we want to acquire. The point here is that one needs to learn one’s language well, preferably very well, which mostly can be one’s mother tongue, yet one must be able to really fully understand, speak, read, and write it correctly. In most instances this process takes place already in the family, and is person-to-person, maybe via outside teachers starting early-on in life too.
For some souls, though, they are learning language by default, by just growing up in it, and somehow acquire some reading ability with only limited writing skills. That’s for sure not enough, not satisfying the basic requirement of learning to be able to study and learn. Just to function in this technology-dominated world demands the thorough knowledge of language, in reading, writing, and use.
B. Which brings me to the most important element required for learning: the self-motivation to learn. MOTIVATION needs to be there, mostly inborn in us, but not so much developed by some.
The latter are the ones who may wish to learn something, say a foreign language for example, or start attending an online course on computer science, but then drop out sooner or later because they really don’t WANT to learn, but think that the skill or knowledge they’d like to acquire will somehow be poured into them without effort on their part.
Of course that’s not how it works. There needs to be strong will and determination to learn on the part of the learner. Without, not much is going to happen, regardless how colorful, lively, or interesting the subject being taught might be. Therefore, self-motivation to learn needs to be built-in, or developed, preferably already by the family, to create the right precondition for true learning to take place.
C. How to operate a computer, which could be a cell phone, tablet, laptop, whatever. But acquiring the knowledge and skills for working with a computer are an absolute must for enabling study and learning almost anything in the 21st century.
Once these three preconditions are met, however, anyone is ready to acquire knowledge with ease, regardless which method is going to be used. We know, of course, that the old school and classroom model works. It merely takes time and money, in many instances lots and lots of both. Yet the same knowledge and much more is available online, and often can be absorbed and dealt with at one’s own pace and availability of time, mostly for far less money, even for free.
The blessing for us living in this century is that the world and all its knowledge is laid out before us electronically, for us to find out about, study, come back to when we want to, enjoy, and enrich our lives, accessible via computer and the Internet.
With online access, why remember anything when you can look it up? Yes why use a large part of the Random Access Memory in your brain for storage of episodic memory instead of semantic and procedural, in other words why make your brain into a hard drive? Using a maximum of your brain cells or RAM for playing games or doing mental acrobatics in a favorite subject is not only much easier, but also far more effective in reaching results, not to mention sheer satisfaction. Adopt the three main requirements above, without which knowledge will be very hard work to acquire, or worse, almost impossible to make stick. Yet Online can open doors that were hard to open before and makes knowledge not only accessible, but also retrievable whenever needed. Therefore my advice is to really practice and maintain (a)(b)(c) well, and you’ll acquire and use whatever knowledge there is easily, as a matter of fact as a very enjoyable and rewarding experience, Online!
Win Straube is the author of “QGE=A, Quality Generic Education is the Answer,” University Press of America (2007), also the founder (in 1995) of the 501(c) Straube Foundation whose objective it is to “show how anyone anywhere can obtain quality education at little or no cost.” Visit www.straube.org .