How does Lyon learn?

Lyon Keating:

As the universe ponders over how people actually learn and what makes them adapt, be successful, fail, live, die, live happily, hyper, allergic, etc. how have I learned in my life?

My life has been a somewhat blur in my mind.  Random events coming together like fog and mazes, mixed with swamps with life juice sucking leeches.  No actually, I think it was a foggy maze within a swamp and I had to eat leeches while a pig was roasting on a spindle over a fire and then we all got swine flu.  Well, as can be concluded that things that happened to end up in my brain were random as all hell and then in the end somehow made sense to the life I’m living now.  In the past it is hard to tell what is important and learning seems useless because rarely do kids actually see the process at work within them.  They zone out, take in very little of what you’re saying and then at random times in their life they remember certain events and/or knowledge that triggered a certain feeling and then they live their life differently.  This is learning, at least it is to me, and the funny thing is that most people all do it very differently.  What way is the best and how do I sign up?

In order to be a good teacher I think it is important to be placed in a setting where one is required to remember how to go from not knowing jack shit to actually learning something.  I’m in such a boat right now as learning Spanish and only being around a different language than what I’ve always been used to is forcing me to adapt, and resort to learning mechanisms that need to work out pronto to end my social isolation.

All my young life I’ve sort of put on the backburning whatever someone was saying to me.  No, not that everything everybody has ever said to me has slide through one ear and out the other, I do talk back sometimes, actually my girlfriend would sometimes say way too much.  Not in that I’m being a little shit disturber, though that is the case sometimes, but just that I like to talky talky talky.  School and listening to parents were pushed in my family but that doesn’t mean you actually learned anything.  If anything, it’s what puts you in a position to learn something later and that is what’s really important.  My interests were related to things that involved constantly moving which usually involved sports.  I could not understand what people were telling me on a daily basis but I could understand being competitive, overcoming to win, teamwork, treating people nice to get what you want and feeling better, among other random things.  It was always easy for me to play sports so I did it, was good at it, and it was pretty much all good.  That’s where my focus lied except that basing your life completely on sports will turn you into a major deautschbag so once I started to figure that out I had to switch gears and actually see what everyone else was saying.

The early part of my life was spent learning things I was motivated to learn and most of that was involved outside of school.  Sorry classroom, I just wasn’t into you.  Things were a bit too boring and I wanted to be active and moving around and frankly other than the social aspect of being with your friends at school it was almost a total bore except for a handful of teachers.  To me, the least you could do if I was not interested in you and you me was be social, interesting people to each other, and that’s where teachers came into my life that I appreciated and most remember.  And what do you know?  Years later I still remember them and these memories are what greatly enhances my life and thus have led to learning for me.

So, other than learning from teachers who are good people what are more relevant ways to learn if you want to learn something in the short term like writing, language acquisition, math, whatever?  For this, my life has been spent memorizing, repetition through common use, figuring out the right way to study, and having appropriate resources available.

My motivation level to learn something new immediately sparked when two things happened.  I liked my teacher, which goes back to what I was saying earlier, and I found a store I could buy supplies like paper, scissors, notebooks, erasers; all things that would make my life easier to study.  Everyone needs to be organized in a certain way that will fit appropriately into their mind and when you don’t have the right supplies it will just be frustrating, easier to quit, and basically not worth it.  Yes, there are the people like Frederick Douglas who learned to write as a slave using his own blood and hay to form letters on the wall which inevitably led to his book writing abilities.  These types need little, if not any motivation to learn because they just will anyway.  The universe has put them there for such.  For all of us other plebeians we need a little more than just our own life juices and dirt.

Once you have your supplies the next best thing is to have learned a right way to study.  How do you learn things if people tell you them but you don’t do anything with them.  No, Frederick Douglas I’m not counting you or any of those others who just get it the first or second time they are told.  We can’t all be good little boys and earn our appropriate flare at TGI Fridays.  There needs to be a system that can tap into our brain, lube it up, and make it more appropriate for things to stick in there.  Although with all that lube on the subject matter it always is a problem to have things stay put once in there.  Only a skilled master can find the appropriate life balance of lube and Manny Moto batting tar.  An example from my early childhood would be with spelling.  I knew that the more I saw the word, wrote the word, and said the word it would stick in my mind so I wrote on a piece of paper every spelling word I needed to know three times in a row.  This worked well and I was a very good spelling until only the last few years where Microsoft Word spell check has removed that once blissful talent of mine, as can be seen in the title of this discussion.  However, the reality of matter is that who cares if you don’t know how to spell anymore?  It’s sort of like the practices of cursive and circumcision as they fall under the “useless to do and wasting time categories.”  Unless the world explodes, then we’ll all have much bigger problems, nobody hand writes important things anymore and we’ll always have spell check.  Sorry spelling, you’ve been served…Regardless of the way you study, it needs to be something that is efficient and taps into your brain and done consistently much like working out.  You wouldn’t expect to get big and represent the sexy, bulbous look of a hummer if you didn’t work at it a little.

Coming with the right way to study, also comes memorization.  When you study something appropriately it will find its way into your mind and at least stay in the short term or whenever you stop studying it.  Here’s where things can teeter easily into the remember for the long term or forget almost completely category.  If your information is not used in a practical application then no memories will be associated with it and it will fade basically into the distance as something you studied one time that didn’t relate to your life.  It’s sort of like that movie that won all those academy awards, “Slumdog Millionaire.”  The main character was smart for getting all those answers correct on that game show because he had certain life experiences and that’s why he remembered.  The same goes for the common person.  Practical application comes when information is put into your brain and then on the spot you figure out how to use it.  I’ve had multiple scenarios lately where I’ve tried to communicate with people and just couldn’t remember the right verb to use.  Suddenly I remember and when that happens it’s rare that it will be as hard to remember next time.  My mind will always race back to that one experience where I couldn’t remember that one word while talking to such and such in whatever situation.  In this sense, learning is fun because it applies to your life and you can witness the process of learning, which is something most people don’t notice much.  However, when they do learn, they are motivated to learn more because, honestly, who doesn’t like to learn?  It’s enlightening for everybody and in this sense it’s like the pathway in our capitalistic society that describes needing money to make money.  Well, people need to experience learning to be motivated to learn.

See why learning and teaching is so hard?  It’s because people don’t, or rarely learn in the classroom where learning supposedly takes place and then most people are disappointed when they haven’t learned anything.  School does prepare you for life, that is if your life is heading towards being in the classroom, so in this sense it only prepares you for more school.  Yes, it does give a necessary background and structure for learning whatever you need to know but that is where it stops.  School should be very little classroom time, coupled with an enormous amount of time of on the site learning, however you can make that possible.

A separate special component to learning is more directed towards the social sciences.  When learning about historical figures, wars, settings, discussions, whatever, it is hard to tap into what’s really going on because it’s boring and about somebody else’s life that bears little resemblance to your own.  It’s just not interesting so how can it be interesting.  Take for example the French Revolution.  I would say it’s an interesting time, just like most pivotal points in history such as this and good teachers can find elements to make it interesting to people, especially with all those beheadings, sadly though, most people don’t.  What people need to relate to are the feelings that were around in the French Revolution and how can they be felt by the people learning about it?  The times may be different, the norms not the same or whatever, but there were still humans as they are today and the number one commonality that can be pulled from the past to anything in the present is the similar emotions that we still do feel today that were felt ever since the modern human came to be.  I know it’s impossible to create the exact vengeful, stimulated emotion that was present during the French Revolution in kids nowadays but something similar can be created by something that happened recently in today’s times, in their lives, in the local town, etc.  The same things keep happening in history just with different people.

In recent times it has been researched and studied that there are about ten or so different intelligences that create situations for people to learn.  In most of our schools only at the most two or three of these intelligences are taught to and/or accepted while others are largely ignored or just not done out of sheer time, energy, and resources that are just not available, and I would argue that the intelligences that are catered to most in our schools don’t represent the most amount of people.  Many of us aren’t Frederick Douglas and need a little bit more of a kick in the pants or at least some interesting stimulation to get us moving in a positive direction.


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