Monday, March 19, 2007

More about dynamic learning

Further to my previous post on dynamic learning, I've remembered some more of what Ali said when we were discussing it:
"Time spent doing other things that aren't about learning is a really important part of the process. You have to have chance to get all that stuff out of your system, then get bored and start wondering about things and wanting to find out about them. If you didn't have the limitless passive stuff to do with your brain, like TV-watching, computer games and reading novels, you'd never reach the point where you wanted to use it more actively."

This reminds me of something I wrote some years ago, in an early home education report for our LEA:
In the first two months this schedule was rigidly adhered to and a substantial volume of work was produced by all of the children, on each of the required subjects as their work files attest. However, I did not feel that real learning was actually taking place. I felt that they were merely going through the motions of learning - either hurriedly or laboriously producing their quota of work in order that I would be satisfied with quantity and quality and release them to freedom at 1pm. The learning sessions in the morning were times of reluctant toil rather than the exciting, enthusiastic soaking-up of information I had optimistically anticipated. The children then proceeded to spend their afternoons in the same kind of 'anti-school daze' in which they had previously spent the hours between 4pm and bedtime when they were attending school. The 'anti-school daze' appeared to be a necessary period of relaxed numbness to be undergone evidently as a kind of antidote to the enforced concentration of the learning time.

Also I considered the effects of a work schedule. Work time ('time on') invariably leads to its natural opposite: time off. It seems that there needs to be as much of each to create a balance. I wondered what would happen to that balance if there was no externally-imposed work schedule. No 'time on' therefore no need for 'time off'. Might this result in actual full-time, every waking hour, non-stop, spontaneous learning?

Hmm. It's over 7 years since I wrote the above. So, did it?

Well, the children aren't quite studying - accumulating information - all the time, but they do so for longer periods of time, with deeper concentration and with absolutely no resistance. Do they ever 'numb out', nowadays? Yes, sometimes they do, but for shorter periods of time than before and their numbing-out is less numb and more engaged than it was in the old schooling days. But according to Ali, this is actually an essential component of dynamic learning.

The children's active learning, unforced, tends to happen in deep intense phases that can last for days. These are often followed by a 'fallow' time, which is, I suspect, for necessary unconscious assimilation of information.

So what's the difference in the quality of their learning, between teacher-led (schooled) and student-led (autonomous)? This is like trying to describe the difference between a domestic cat and a Bengal tiger. The schooled version is merely the retaining and reproduction of information and skills. A dynamic learner engages with and owns the process.

Is it possible for a schooled student to be a dynamic learner?

I would say YES, if it was genuinely the child's totally uncoerced decision to be schooled. Otherwise, I doubt it very much.


Blogger Ruth said...

This is a brilliant post Gill. I have seen the same in my kids when we had mornings for "work". Once we stopped the demarcation of time they eventually didn't see things in a time on and time off way.
The LA expects evidence. I still find it hard to satisfy them and keep life/learning how the kids want it and respect their right to own their own learning. Something I don't think our L.A will ever grasp.

5:14 pm, March 19, 2007  
Blogger Louise said...

Thanks Gill, I really needed this today as I learn more of my autonomous friends are doing an hour of school a day and one sending her 7 yr old to school for the first time. Dropping like flies...... it's a lonely path sometimes.

8:48 pm, March 19, 2007  
Blogger Allie said...

Thanks for this, Gill. It is so helpful to be able to read the thoughts of someone who has more experience then we do.

10:19 am, March 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'dropping like flies'

This time of 'persecution' in the HE world will test the convitions of those who have chosen the HE path when in the face of severe opposition will they fight it out or 'drop like flies'.

Is it not the time at hand to see if we will keep the courage of our convictions.

9:26 pm, March 20, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

"The LA expects evidence. I still find it hard to satisfy them and keep life/learning how the kids want it and respect their right to own their own learning. Something I don't think our L.A will ever grasp."

Hmmm.. I wonder what we can do about that. *thinking*

8:42 am, March 22, 2007  
Blogger Ruth said...

I really don't know Gill. If we show nothing they moan. If we show anything they cricitise the product. Since our horrendous visit all my kids have declined to show anything. I have only had to send reports since then so it was easy to avoid the issue but if enforced H.V's come in ( looking likely with all the hype over this latest abuse case even tho the kids were known to SS:()and some kind of assessment of progress they will expect to see "work." I think the part of the law about making enquiries of the *parent* needs to be emphasised back to tptb. Nowhere does it say they can grill the child.

10:47 am, March 22, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

I think they will do that where they can because if we're consistently successful and they're not, then we serve as a threat to their salaries and positions - quite rightly! Gives them good incentive to hassle people though doesn't it? :-(

I'm trying to write a new post about this. Not sure how useful it'll be, but if it just kicks off more discussion/combined thinking then it might help.

11:12 am, March 22, 2007  

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