Learning about learning!

Yet another late night sitting in front of my laptop tapping on the keys and trying to make sense of all of the information I have read over the last few weeks. I have drank several (dozen) cups of coffee and eaten my weight in biscuits (study makes me hungry!) and I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every document that I have come across.

The topic is ICT integration and I have covered a diverse range of material in my quest for understanding. I have read papers on ICT integration and leadership, e-Learning, digital citizenship, ICT and teacher attitudes, ICT and teacher training, ICT and student experiences. I’ve researched the learning theories of Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, Seymour Papert and John Dewey and I’ve attempted to understand their theories in the context of my own teaching and indeed my own learning. I’ve read countless blogs including: @timbuckteeth, @coolcatteacher, @TeachingBlogAdd, @eschoolnews to name but a few. I have e-journals coming out my ears and my laptop is begging me to stop opening document after document after document. Earlier as I opened yet another e-book my laptop went on strike – it froze and had a little rest to gather strength for what it knew would be a long night ahead. Google and I are best buddies and that little search engine must be running out of steam at this stage with all the search terms I’ve input in the last few weeks.The EdIT library has spent endless hours searching for and returning e-journals to me only to have me place more requests. I have downloaded every government publication with regard to ICT in education that I could find and now I only have one problem – how do I take all of this information and bring it together in a cohesive, coherent understanding of the topic?!

I have gathered information, I have analysed that information – now I need to synthesise the information. I am going to have to break down everything that I’ve read and build it all up again to construct my own understanding. When I’m trying to learn or understand something I talk to myself (a lot)! So much so that sometimes my husband walks into the room to see who I’m having a conversation with. I find that by reading the information and talking to myself about it as I attempt to understand it, it begins to become clearer. When I read aloud and discuss the strengths and limitations of a paper with my learner self (two of me… scary prospect!) I develop a deeper understanding of the content. I draw diagrams – which probably don’t make sense to anyone else but me – this makes the information personal to my own learning. I regularly use mindmaps to help me to understand where I have started and where I am going. I write and type as I’m reading. I keep notes – that also would not make sense to anyone else but me – I scrawl all over my notepad. I draw arrows and squiggles and clouds to connect ideas – it’s all very messy!

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It is messy and it is confusing to others who try to make sense of it but it’s the way I learn. It took me a while to figure out how to learn but this style suits me. At secondary school I wasn’t a great student – I found it difficult and uncomfortable to sit for a long period of time. The teaching style was didactic, learning was not made personal, there was no such thing as self-directed learning. We sat, we all were given the same notes, we all turned to the same page in the book, we all took the same tests and critical thinking was not encouraged. We were told what we had to learn – not why we had to learn it. As a teacher myself now I understand that the teachers had a curriculum to deliver and they had a short space of time in which to deliver it. I think my style of teaching has been influenced by my own experience of learning (or not learning) at school. I don’t like quiet classrooms – there are times for quiet but there are more times for noise, talk, discussion, dialogue, problem-solving and project-based learning. I don’t think that children should have to sit for long periods of time listening to me talk – I am not an expert on everything (don’t tell my husband that)! I regularly tell my students that I don’t know everything and they also know that I’m studying and that I probably will continue studying for many years to come. I make them aware that I am a learner just like them. We analyse, we hypothesise, we try… we don’t always get it right but that is all part of the fun of learning.

Anyhow back to my own zany method of learning for me 🙂

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