The Learning Path

I am very interested in the experience of “ Learning.” How do I learn, and how do my patients talk about their learning experience?

I often hear kids say that they don't like school and the anxiety that learning creates for them.   Schools and teachers have different styles of conveying information, and subject matter also influences how the information is conveyed.  

Teachers have a set of goals in delivering a curriculum of study.  They may focus on a subject they feel is essential or offer a quick lecture and no formal on another subject.  Style of delivery also plays a major role in imparting knowledge.  Students can zone out during lectures and get caught up thinking about a video game or movie they watched the night before. Their experience changes, however, when the lecture switches into a natural conversation. The give and take of a natural conversation activates a different set of neural paths than the active or passive listening of information.  Those who have the courage to ask questions or point out controversial ideas often take away even more information than those involved in active observation.  Regardless of involvement, students often define this type of  learning as “effective.”  It turns out that “engaging” with teachers allows multiple ideas to flow and can create flexibility in students' understanding of the subject.

When asking students, “What makes a good learning experience”, the answers I hear usually revolve around engaging teachers, using stories, and taking time to connect with the students.  Learning happens by sharing different ideas, conversing with others, and being able to expose the ideas to have them challenged.

The best teachers get to know the student and then teach when they arrive at the point of connection, passing the information on at that point. Connection is impacted by the communicator’s style, delivery, cadence, and non-verbal factors.  Tests, measure performance but do not gauge long-term learning; they generate anxiety, and typically the knowledge gained for test performance, disappears after the tests.  

How does one find the best learning experience for different brains, interests, and states of mind? Are there techniques that are suitable for large groups?