Bateson, Spike Hall, L2L

March 19, 2005

Thursday, January 9, 2003
> Learning to Learn (deutero-learning, metalearning): knowledge about self and learning–high proven payoff

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Last update: 3/18/05; 5:54:59 PM .

Knowledge is the ability to respond to/within a situation in such a way as to keep it within the range of personal expectations. Learning is the composite of actions which results in the acquisition of knowledge. (It’s more complex than this summary indicates…see links of this paragraph for details.)

Children are actively acquiring knowledge all the time. (So are we— if at a lower rate). Schools are assigned with transmitting culturally /sociallly sanctioned knowledge. (literacy, basic computation, job readiness skills, general science, college preparation based on some analysis of what is desired by college representatives or needed for (the two overlap but aren’t identical ) college success.

-children should be seeing the overlap of their self-generated learning and their intentions …. and learning to increase the correlation. -work on this can occur at home and in school. And when it does it has multiple benefits… the practical ones , so far , appear to be at the center of analyst attention. I think, however, that the sense of personal control and capablity (known in some circles as ‘self-efficacy’) is a separate and equally important outcome.

For example, the Learning to Learn (LTL) program (coincidental overlap with my choice of names) has been cited as an educational program that works by the US Department of Education.

The LTL system was developed through research in the learning strategies of successful students. Such students: (1) ask questions of new materials, reading or listening for confirmation; (2) break down into smaller units the components of complex tasks and ideas; and (3) devise informal feedback mechanisms to assess their own progress. The LTL system is not a study skills system which loses its impact after students stop using the techniques. Once new LTL behaviors are established, they become part of the learner, integral to his/her thinking process. We think of these methods as comprising a fourth basic skill which facilitates the other three.

What, in general is involved here? One way of describing the payoff might be: These students have combined the willingness to take control of their own learning with several important skills which , taken together, amount to control of their own knowledge-making efforts. The willingness and skills have positive mutual effects. Character and competence enlarge their scope.

[1-10-2002 12 pm: After a communication with Ian Glendinning I have added deuterolearning to the title. And the additional summary of Bateson’s work (via James Atherton) below.]

Bateson maintained that many discussions about learning were confused by category errors about the kind of learning they were about. He suggested that there are a number of levels, in which each superior level is the class of its subordinates (rather like Kelly’s notion of superordinate and subordinate constructs).

—- * Learning 0 is direct experience: I put my hand in the fire ? it gets burned

* Learning I is what we routinely refer to as learning: the generalisation from basic experiences. I have experienced “hand in fire” and “being burned”, and I won’t do it again. This is straightforward and compatible even with behavioural views, as well as the cycle of experiential learning.

* Learning II (which he sometimes called “Deutero-Learning”) contextualises Learning I experiences. It is about developing strategies for maximising Learning I through the extraction of implicit rules, and also putting specific bits of Learning I in context: I don’t generally risk getting burned, but I might do so to save someone else from a fire.

* Learning III contextualises Learning II, and is not understood, but it may be the existential (or spiritual) level: What does it say about me that I would risk getting burned in order to …?

The higher the level, the less we understand about the process, and although such higher level learning undoubtedly takes place, the more difficult it is deliberately to manage it.

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