Sunday, November 20, 2011

Coming Up for Air - learning how to learn

Under a sea of books
It took an eternity to surface from Turkish seas and feels just as long coming up for air from a period of binge reading.

It would be simple enough if I had a photographic memory latching onto facts as if they were football figures whose stats were worth noting.

We can try all sorts of things to increase our capacity to retain information, but what's required is active learning. Anytime I'm offered the chance to present, I sneak into the room early, to 'mark territory'.

It is my little ritual, as I imagine it is to others.  Listening to Professor Gabriel Radvansky on the BBC, his authoritative musings on the human memory appeared to show my predatorial walkies make sense.

Radvansky's published research in a book on memory claims our memory auto refreshes when we past a door way. Indeed when was the last time you entered a room and forgot why you were there, and the only way you could remember was to return to the source of the thought.

So the answer to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney could have been to learn which three agencies were for the chop within the theatre.

Now, if that were the case, the idea of any successful presentation would be unheard of, since we're forever travelling walking through doors.

So part of the solution I guess is a bid to understand and to become the text, removing the idea of learning by rote.  That requires making meaning from what Donald Schon ( listen here for BBC Lecture)   calls reflection-in-action.

Essentially it's thinking about what you're thinking about, your experiences and learning to unravel the complication by logically setting about a new solution.

Active Learning
Learning becomes an active discussion with others or yourself. In lectures rooms, that's something I actively encourage.

The idea of getting into character with the text - method approach - and thinking about the audience opens us to wider solutions.

Questions such as how do I know this, and coming at yourself from another POV, may sound schizophrenic, but it questions expectations.

It's that technique which I'll be using this year acting as a juror for the UK's prestigious Royal Television Society Awards ( RTS) 2012.

Thankfully I won't have to memorise any presentations, but the collective work I'm going through now, I guess can only help.