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November 18, 2012 / glennlim thots

Learning to Learn 1 – Be like Water!


“Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, let it grow, flow, like water…” – Bruce Lee

The ability to adopt, adapt and assimilate knowledge is critical in developing your own learning. In 21st century terms, we call it the ability to unlearn and re-learn. Bruce Lee’s reference to water creates an image of formlessness, fluidity and flexibility.

The above diagram is taken from Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning, in the cognitive domain. It postulates that authentic cognitive learning has a scale of 6 levels, beginning at the most basic (lower order thinking) – Memory. Remember in primary school when we used to learn through rote learning and memorisation? Well, that’s just the beginning, step one. We cannot afford to stay there…

In fact, the first 3 levels are exactly how we learn at school – Remembering, Understanding and Applying. Teachers would frequently ask: “Do you remember?”; “Do you understand?”, and “Have you applied?”. In the 21st century, utilising analytical and critical thinking skills are vital. They are only found in the upper registers of this diagram. How do we get there?…

This is where real Active Learning takes place. As learners, we cannot afford to be passive (taking in info as they come). Eg) Imagine yourself sitting in front of your computer being ‘entertained’ by youtube etc. You are bombarded by images and visual data externally, but your internal faculties are not engaged. No processing takes place. That’s a passive posture. If, however, you prepare your mind to process the incoming information, by intentionally evaluating the messages or values behind the data. Then find a context by which those principles currently exist, and finally building and creating new structures to apply them in. Your mind is actively processing all sensory inputs – this becomes Active Learning!

LESSON – Don’t take in new knowledge blindly. Real learning is training your brain to build on existing information. Analyse and evaluate it, synthesise and create something new out of it…


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