Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Eureka Moment

My beloved husband is currently watching football. Not Aussie Rules, European, you know, the one with the round ball, the snow on the ground, the blind refs...

It's all about context.

I'm using the time to study and somehow I've managed to drown out Lee's yelling at the inadequacies of the West Brom players, the kids' oohing and aahing over their son's attempts at rolling over and even Connor's third attempt at delaying his bedtime by coming out to complain about an old scar.

I'm fully into reading "Learning With Technology: A Constructivist Perspective" by (and here's my early attempt at referencing Murdoch-style as opposed to Edith Cowan style) Jonassen, Peck and Wilson (1999) and taking notes and getting with the groove of learning about a subject for which I have no real prior knowledge.

(Side note: I'm not stupid. I'm a 20th 21st Century woman. I may be in my (extremely) early 40s but I've worked in the banking industry, the health insurance industry, as an Admin Assistant and for the ATO (shhhh). I'm an author and an editor and the mother of teenagers. I may not be able to program the VCR (mainly because it took up room better dedicated to the DVD player and Foxtel) but I know from computers, oy vey. But teach about technology? Not likely.)

Yup, I'm reading and I'm taking notes and I'm hoping something of what I'm recording will stick. I don't know what my lecturer/tutor really wants from me at this stage, but maybe something from the introduction* will be important.

And here are the notes I've taken:

Page 2: Role of teachers and technologies in learning is indirect. Students learn from thinking and thinking is engaged by activity.

Learning is experiential; we experience through contact with objects, events, activities and processes. How we interpret those experiences depends on what we already know, drawing conclusions and reflecting upon these conclusions.

Page 3: This leads to constructivism - the belief that knowledge is constructed, not transmitted. We construct our own interpretations or models of experience.

A belief or teaching can be shared, but interpretation of these beliefs comes from the student's own experience and knowledge. This knowledge then becomes anchored by the context in which the activity occurs.

At this point two things distracted me. 1) West Brom (or Wolverhampton, whatever) did something shout-worthy and 2) I realised my glass of wine ran out. As I poured another (1/2) glass and let my beloved recover from his tirade I tried to think out what I'd learnt.

It came down to this. We know 2 + 2 = 4. How do we teach this concept to a child? As the mother of 5 children, I've dealt with this before. We break it down to real word values; ie If I have 2 apples and you give me 2 apples, how many apples do I now have? After counting the apples, most children will supply the correct answer**.

As soon as I wrote this down I had my own Eureka! moment. I had just applied my own interpretation based on a contextual experience. I had managed to develop my knowledge from two separate knowledge bases, one from my life and the other from the book.

Oh yeah. There was hand-clappage.

*I learnt early in my uni-career that a lot of what we need to learn can be found in the introduction.

** It took Connor (now six) one day to make the knowledge leap from 2 apples + 2 apples = 4 apples to 200 + 200 = 400, 2000 + 2000 = 4000 and 2 million + 2 million = 4 million. He was 5 at the time. Geenyoos, I tells 'ee. Geenyoos. Is it any wonder I let him get out of bed three times with made up complaints?

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