There’s something I’ve been teaching and preaching over and over again the past years. Before we can start to change and expect different results, we have to take a look at what we’ve been doing that’s not working, internalize that, and go acquire the knowledge, skills (methods) to do things differently. If you do things the way you’ve always been doing them, you will always get the same results. No?
I teach language – but teaching effectively nowadays is not a mere exercise at the subject per se. The end result of teaching is learning and the expectations of learning is exponential learning. In order to really teach anything, we actually need to know how learning happens. The hardest part of teaching language is actually to teach people how to learn. It may seem ironic but it seems like the biggest stumbling block to learners is not so much the subject matter but the knowledge of how to learn.
Learning how to learn would mean noticing that if you do the same things, you get the same results. And to change the results, we need to change the variables. The single biggest variable is the method. The way we design our method of learning must meet our objectives.
Students want to achieve good results in their exams. But that is not an end in itself. Achieving good results is a means of securing a place in a good varsity, obtaining a tertiary degree is a means of getting a higher paid job, obtaining a higher paid job is a means of …etc.etc.
Perhaps everyone should start with an end in mind. The end in mind for most, if not everyone, is to be happy, contented, confident and to have a great sense of security. To be happy is to be able to contribute value to this life, to be contented is to be able to accept yourself and your circumstances, to be confident is to be doing what suits your aptitude and to have a great sense of security is to know that you have the ability to create and obtain the life you can be happy with.
Language learning should be seen as a means towards that end. Actually, any type of learning should be seen as a means towards that end. The irony is a majority of people who are looking to ‘learn’ something is approaching learning with an extremely shortsighted view of things and wonder, why, after many extensions of these short-sighted attempts, they’re really not progressing that much. You cannot go far if you’re looking at your toes while you’re walking.
The hardest thing to teach, really, it to teach a person how to learn. Time is limited, so is effort.The analogy I use is that we can’t hope to go forward if we keep stepping on the gas while the gear is in Reverse. We actually have to stop and find a centre, go neutral for a while. Discard a previous notion of learning something if that method has NOT proven to give you exponential learning. Analyse where you’re at, think a moment and consider the alternatives. All it takes is a change of gear before you go full speed ahead.
If a mind does not understand the concept of learning how to learn, efforts in teaching new information would be wasted – like pouring liquid gold through a tiny straw. More spills out than it does going through the tiny gap.