Posts Tagged ‘learning’

I am interested in learning as a process of knowledge acquisition. The first requirement for learning is a place for knowledge storing and the ability to transfer this knowledge. Information storage is called memory. Memory for most of us means  storage room for information. Memory is associated with brain, computer memory, hard drive, flash cards, memory stick… I also remember old-fashioned books and another written material. However, the oldest, the most efficient, the most widespread method of information storing is the DNA molecule.

The DNA molecule contains genes that have more information about humans than a human can learn in his life. Those molecules can effectively transfer information. Moreover they can learn. They change, storing information corresponding to the changing environment.

There is a common opinion among DNA that life is only the equipment for their existence.


A teacher (in Galactive) is the manager of knowledge creation   Prophets have always understood that foretelling needs to be made in a vague style.  Future prediction is a very difficult business, especially when you forecast something specific. However, if you predict for an undetermined period of time nobody can catch your mistake. To say that the teaching profession won’t last, doesn’t take courage. On the contrary, in saying that the teaching profession would never disappear (“Never say never”)  you take a chance. I will take this chance because I believe that this profession is an integral part of every human society.

Lately,  we hear more and more about the end of the teaching profession and this forecast is based mostly on these arguments:

  1. It isn’t the first extinct profession. It happens. It will happen again.
  2. World-wide diminution of the teacher’s role. Maybe this diminution is only the first step to extinction.
  3. New technology in education could bring alternatives.

The first. Some professions died while others have a long history and don’t give signs of future extinction. The second group consists from those that are there because of human nature (thieves for example) or those which satisfy the human necessary needs (fortune teller for example). Teachers have both components. People like to teach (at least some of them). Teachers help to transfer and process knowledge which satisfies the human society’s needs.

The second is simple. A bad attitude toward a profession says nothing about its longevity. Low opinion of politicians in society doesn’t say that this profession will have a problem of existence in the future.

The third one is the most difficult to argue. New technologies have a big share in education and certainly will have more in the future. Information flow already runs through the other pipes. A teacher isn’t the only and isn’t the best source of information.

Teaching is a dying profession in medieval because new printing technologies

Having access to information isn’t everything. Surfing the WEB without direction is a mostly unproductive occupation. We need direction in the informational chaos. Knowledge has a structure and this structure defines learning sequence. You can’t see the whole building when you are sanding at the entrance. A teacher is an experienced guide who gives you direction. Help in learning is difficult because different people create knowledge in different ways. People think differently therefore a teacher needs to adjust the learning way to a specific student. Another aspect is social interaction. People will need to communicate with each other personally. Children learn everywhere by trying, but sometimes they need correction, and the teacher’s directions can have value.

Computers are becoming more intelligent. Educational programs are becoming more attractive and effective. It is possible that some day computers will think like humans (for me, it means that the computer will become a man). This Robo-man could replace human teachers. Whether the teacher would be made of cells or of another material, the profession would remain.

Carmen Gloria Caamaño replied to my post Curiosity vanishes : “Very good post. That got me thinking that people stop asking questions so as not to show vulnerability. In the case of the Chileans are very few people ask. Will they not encouraged culturally? What can you do to change this? regards”

In this post I tried to answer her questions.

In my opinion, losing the ability to ask questions  is a deep, maybe instinctive feature of  adult people. It is more natural for adults not to ask questions than to ask them in many different cultures. Maybe a group needs a majority of non-questioning individuals for stability. From the other side, people with curiosity can discover new things. The ability to ask questions is an essential part of critical thinking. Nowadays critical thinking is more important than in the past because of two reason. The first is the rapid changes of our world, and the second is mass media and social media technologies which can be used and are used for more and more manipulations.

Can we change adults and make them ask more questions?  In this regard I am pessimistic. Adults can change but those changes are rare. The less bad consequences follow questioning the more questions people ask. Open society is a prerequisite for asking questions.

Children, from the other side, already have the ability to ask questions. They ask and we (parents, teachers) have to answer. If we don’t have an answer  we need to look for it or show a way to look for it. Children’s questions should be important for us. When a teenager says about his question “It’s not important” he lost something from his ability to ask questions.

Sometimes we don’t understand questions. Often a question is badly built. However, for parents and teachers “No silly questions” politics should be used. All questions must be welcome. It is our duty to find out what the child wanted to ask, and create an atmosphere  supporting curiosity.

“Everyone complains of his memory,
and nobody complains of his judgment.”
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

            I do complain about my memory. It isn’t what I want it to be. There are two reasons for this. The first is that it was difficult to learn poems by heart in my school years and the second is that I forget contents of movies that I’ve watched or books that I’ve read. The last has its benefits (I can reread my favorite books with pleasure) but as a whole I would like a bigger and better memory. No, I don’t like memory training methods. I simply want some electronic device which would extend my memory. Those devices are already here. With the help of computers and the Internet we need to remember less. My doctor, for example, looks for diagnoses in Google. Maybe in the future..

I bought you some memory for our Wedding Anniversary

One Russian story tells about a man who began to speak at the age of 30. The first sentence the man spoke was “Where is the salt?”. Later he explained his muteness by the lack of need in speaking. “I had what I wanted”.

This example tells us not only about low expectations from life but also about a lack of curiosity. Real children behave differently. They want everything, want to be somebody and want to know.

Children ask questions not only because they want something. but also because they want to know. Kids ask questions because it’s the best way to learn. We are born with an instinct of curiosity. We ask even if asking questions has unpleasant consequences (see for example The Elephant’s Child of R. Kipling). We want to know because knowledge is power.

All knowledge gives us power but knowledge about people gives even more of it. Understanding others helps to communicate and in some cases to empower. From the other side, releasing information about yourself gives power to others. We don’t like that Google knows so much about us because it gives Google a huge amount of power and puts us in a position of weakness.

Knowledge is power but showing a lack of knowledge is weakness. Those questions which help us learn, simultaneously show a lack of knowledge, i.e. weakness. Demonstration of your weak spot is not always a good idea. A child can be weak. He has protection. Most people have an instinct to defend children. However, when people begin to mature they become more fragile, they don’t want to show their vulnerability and stop asking questions.

Why you are never ask for direction?

Alien: "I told you to ask for direction"

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