Are you ready to be a lifelong learner?

Are you ready to be a lifelong learner?

Are you ready to be a lifelong learner?

We are now in an era where schools have to move from teaching facts to teaching how to ‘learn to learn’. More than ever before, we now need to be prepared to learn all our lives.

Technology, globalisation and job markets are continuously evolving at such a fast pace that students passing out of college have to be critical thinkers. Are our students equipped to do so?

Well, for students to be able to learn to learn, their teachers have to evolve with the times too. Our teachers have stuck to the same teaching methods for generations and by far, the most popular teaching style in colleges is the ‘lecture’.  Mark Twain once commented on the education style of his times and said, “College is a place where a professor’s lecture notes go straight to the students’ lecture notes without passing through the brains of either.”

This may seem like a rather harsh comment but it is true. The whole ‘lecture’ system is out-of-touch with reality. One is reminded of Nobel Laureate Albert Camus’ remark, “Some people talk in their sleep; lecturers talk while others sleep.”  

This boredom starts not in college but in primary school itself. Recently, educators and psychologists in the US teamed up to carry out an experiment to demonstrate the effects of different teaching styles on learning.

The experiment used a toy which had four tubes attached to it and each tube did something different.  On pulling one tube, it generated a squeaking sound while another
became a tiny mirror, while the other two tubes performed different tasks too.

A group of young students was shown the toy by a teacher who said she found it on the floor. While showing the toy to the young students she “accidentally” pulled one of the tubes and it squeaked.

“Wow!  Did you see that?!  Let me try again,” she said and did this a couple of times. She then gave the toy to the kids and left the room.

The second group was shown the toy by a another teacher. She said that she had a toy, and when she pulled on one of the tubes, it squeaked. She then deliberately made the toy squeak to demonstrate this fact to the students.  She too gave the kids the toy and left the room.

Both groups and their reactions to the toy were monitored by the research group and here’s what they found:

Both groups pulled at the first tube and laughed when the toy squeaked.  But after a while, the second group got bored whereas the first group continued to be interested in the toy.  

The first group continued to play with the toy, exploring each tube and eagerly waiting for the squeaks, exploring the toy, and discovering all kinds of surprises. Psychologists say that the different reactions were caused by the different styles of teaching. When children are given facts and told what we think they need to know, they are less likely to explore on their own and end up learning less.

And herein lies the reason why our schools produce students who do not display any creativity.  Living as we do now, in an environment where we constantly need to be learning, it is imperative that our education focuses on teaching students to be lifelong learners.