Encouraging Learning

A common theme in my most recent posts has been relating to human advancement. While I would like to later talk more about history this topic is something I want to go into right now. Advancement is a difficult concept to talk about in full as it relates to many things. The purpose of this blog is to talk about what I think is the best way to create learning be it that of a child, an adult or in general.

Rather than an effort to make learning simply making learning ‘cool’ or fun a person also needs to want to learn to get the best effect. I will be looking at this from a few perspectives.

Education

Education of course being a rather obvious way in which somebody learns. The role of education though needs to focus on general learning in the UK. While examinable information is very important making a space in which a child can and wants to learn is more important. Teaching how to compare and contrast differing ideas by looking at potential bias or inaccuracies is something first taught to me formally at GCSE (ages 14-16) History. This is frankly too late. We have issues of teachers before this forcing pseudo-scientific ideals down children before this. While public (private) schools don’t have to follow the national curriculum some basic guidelines should be enforced I feel. In science classes I would love to see children being shown a video by for example Carl Sagan. Putting the wonder of the world back into the classes to give a sense of perspective. This is why I really do support out of classroom trips give the children passion and they will teach themselves I think.

English: Cropped from ‘Pale Blue Dot’, see bel...

‘Pale Blue Dot’,  (Wikipedia). Seeing our place in the universe. Should it not simply fill us with wonder and joy rather than the insignificance that many see?

Games

Now gamification is something that is worth looking into. Put simply this is learning by games or making menial tasks more fun. Often by giving a levelling system to provide some feedback to help motivate I want to focus on something different.

I enjoy more complex computer games and some of them are based in real settings. With this often is a wiki of sorts attached.

As a small child my first book was called something along the lines of ‘a prehistoric atlas’. I loved dinosaurs and my farther just bought books from bookshops on the topic. Many of them were far beyond what I could read but illustrations and diagrams helped. Age of empires though gave me a basic understanding of history. I could take charge of famous events and it was where I learnt the most about Joan of Arc. It helped me with the film have a basic understanding of the campaign of William Wallace and gave me an interest in learning more than I did though game play and in depth game files.

Total War games are another example if not for Shogun 1 and 2 I’d know far less about the history of Japan. Perhaps this is the reason it took me till I was 20 and making my own fictional work to gain a proper appreciation for fiction. Because a game helped me learn about the Meiji Restoration (as seen in the film The Last Samurai). You tell a child a tale of samurai warriors charging men with guns with honour and glory. You then tell the child that this actually happened and well it blew my little mind. Or about a rough idea relating to the sengoku jidai era?

Even games like the civilisation series while being very sandbox in nature and open ended gave some appreciation for me as a child. The English have some units better at times in history for example the redcoats. The civopedia tells me that the Redcoats were blah blah. Total War games also have brilliant in depth information about units. This gives a stage pad in which a person can learn a little bit and opens the doors to so much more.

Music/films/TV

On the 6th June, on the shores of western Europe, 1944 D Day upon us! – Sabaton – Primo Victoria

Music and films also add another brilliant example though little things taught by actual histories or played around a bit. It allows a user of this media to get a feel for the Era as fiction does. Films about historical events or mythologies can stick in the mind and allow one to look further into it.

My examples are more music based as well I love music as a media more. Amon Amarth lead to me learning more about Norse Mythology. Sabaton about history. The film 300 is another brilliant example King Leonidas I as he made his last stand at thermopylae. Yes it actually happened! Even the cheesy lines!

Sabaton gave me another example one I had not heard of the battle of Winza during the second World War. The song is called 40:1 and I was always curious as to what it was about so I looked it up. Let me leave you with something from the Wikipedia page on the issue.

“The Battle of Wizna was fought between September 7 and September 10, 1939, between the forces of Poland and Germany during the initial stages of Invasion of Poland. It was arguably the most heroic battle in the campaign, in which according to latest sources under 720 Poles defended a fortified line for three days against more than 40,000 Germans”

All I can say is that well it’s an epic tale. Sabaton’s most recent album relates to the Swedish Empire which I only knew ever existed prior to this because of the game Cossacks. I looked it up from the battle of Prague to the crashing defeat that was Poltava.

If we want people to learn for interest and fun lets show them how amazing and odd the world can be. Music can also take the form of beautiful poetry. I hated it in school but then I realised how much of my music was nothing more than poetry. From the epic tales of power metal to the sad tales waved by Woods of Ypres and Katatonia.

Internet

Cracked.com is a good example of this. Often informative to a degree but always with interesting topics. The internet of course is the great facilitator of these things. I like to think my blog posts leave a small launch pad for the reader to look more in depth as to my chosen topic.

The internet allows all of us to look up details of these sorts of things one example of this in practise is Schrödinger’s Cat which is often explained on Youtube in simple terms. Or the newsfeed of newscientist or the I fucking Love Science facebook channel. Most of my friends know of this cat from a show called ‘The Big Bang Theory’. What a brilliant way of teaching people!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOYyCHGWJq4  – Minute science, Schrödinger’s Cat

We live in a world where the understanding that previously would require further education or browsing a book shop can be sought by anybody with an internet connection. I feel education should make a better use of these sorts of things. I had a science teacher that used to make us try and find out the answer to teach ourselves before he taught us the answer and we saw if and why our understanding was flawed. As much as it wound me up at the time it as a brilliant idea.

We need the tools to be able to learn in addition to the knowledge we learn. I am thankful to be doing a degree that while is very intensive on cramming and learning set rules is also very much about learning how to learn. How to find information and how to work out which information is correct.

I am a person who has a lot of ‘pointless’ knowledge and very few who share my love of certain topics but enough to keep me more than content and to always have something in depth to talk about should I wish. Yes exams are important but should this come at a cost of wanting to learn more about things in general?

Yes it is important to know basic geography and science but surely it is more important to know how to read a map and the scientific method? It reminds me of the ‘give a man a fish’ analogy.

Give a person a book and he may learn what it contains. Give a person wonder and he will read a thousand books.

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