Knowledge processes - Chapter 6: The Nature of Learning

Your experience of intelligence

  • Tell a story (a story using pseudonyms, or a hypothetical story based on your experience) of someone who does well in school in the traditional sense, but who is not intelligent in some other respects. What are the biases of conventional understandings of school intelligence? What can we do about this?

How people understand intelligence

  • Interview a family member. Get the person to list the things they consider to be evidence of intelligence, or an intelligent person. Then analyse this list. To what extent could these items be attributed to nature or nurture? What are the physiological affordances in all able-bodied humans? How is intelligence socially acquired?

Brain basics (1)

  • Develop a class wiki or glossary of key terminology describing brain structure and functioning. Each person could contribute several concepts.

Brain basics (2)

  • Using concepts from the wiki or glossary, write in summary form a theory of the role of the brain in learning.

The behaviourist learning mechanism

  • For Pavlov’s dogs, how did learning occur? What are the similarities and differences between animal and human learning?

Connecting culture and language with learning

  • How is Yolngu learning described in the web supplement to this chapter different from learning in English-speaking environments? Why use local understandings of learning in the Yolngu school? What lessons could be learned beyond this school?
  • How can our language have us mean different things? Interview a bilingual. (Or, if you are bilingual, interview a bilingual with a different second language). What are some of the unique meanings conveyed in the bilingual’s second language by certain words and expressions? What are the implications for education?

Theory to practice (1)

  • Take a learning theorist other than the ones mentioned in this chapter. Locate them in terms of the three understandings of the nature of learning introduced in this chapter. (Their position may be a hybrid of more than one of these approaches.) Explain your reasons for locating this learning theory in the way you do.

Theory to practice (2)

  • What are the practical implications of the learning theory you have been examining in the previous activity for the practice of teaching and learning? Give some examples of the kinds of things a teacher may do.