Learning

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How human beings learn is no small subject!
There are a number of considerations that
go into this highly individual process.

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When I was a child, the major assumption was that if all children were in school and would behave themselves, they had an equal chance at a quality education. Since then, thankfully, there has been a great deal more research into how children particularly, and human beings generally, learn. Like most things, the How depends very much on the Who and all the Hows associated with that person.


Articles in this section:

Gender Hemisphere Aptitude
Process Development Willingness

Please use these links, or the tabs along the top of the page
and the drop-down menus to navigate your way around.

These topics specifically relate to how our children learn. As companion reading,
you might be interested to look at our Uniqueness section,
which deals more with personal individuality.


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Some Questions

As a home educator, you will be particularly interested in the answers as they apply to your child. Being aware of the answers as they apply to you, too, provides valuable additional insight, because the two of you have to figure out how to work together. 🙂
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Does Gender Influence Learning?

You betcha! One of my sisters has four individually intelligent children (all adults now). When her second son was in primary school, he really struggled. In her pursuit of answers for him (she ultimately brought him home to educate for several years), one school principal pointed out that modern-day classrooms have stimulation everywhere. He explained that boys, in particular, need to be able to focus on just one thing at a time.

It seems that girls prefer to collaborate and create strong relationships. They often focus on pleasing others and earning praise for good work.

Boys generally don’t sit still as well as girls, and may rebel against rigid structure. They are often praised for originality of thought, and their abilities with logic.

Nancy Knapp [1], an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Georgia who has observed gender differences in the classroom notes that up to one-third of children will break the gender pattern. She says, “You can’t predict any one kid based on gender.”

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Left Brain or Right Brain?

The concept of ‘hemispheric dominance’ has been around for some time, and some psychologists suggest that it has been inappropriately exploited. The idea is that the two sides of the human brain control two different ways of thinking, and that each person operates from one or the other as a pre-set preference.

Generally, the idea is that the Left brain thinkers operate from a logical, objective, analytical perspective, while Right brain thinkers are more random, subjective and holistic.

The idea of “brain-training” is that by purposefully training the less dominant side of our brain, we can become more balanced. As home educators, it can be interesting to be aware of what comes more naturally to our child, and what might take more purposeful training.

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What is my child’s particular Aptitude?

Perhaps the best known work in this area is Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. In essence, this work suggests that the traditional definition of “intelligence” is far too limited to do justice to the vast array of abilities that humans display. While it has long been recognised that children will have a tendency towards either numeracy or literacy, Gardner proposed these options were too few. Initially he offered eight different intelligences, but nine are now commonly talked about.

For home educators, taking into consideration what our child’s hard-wired pre-sets are, can significantly impact the ease with which we conduct day-to-day life. If your child is an artiste, there’s probably very little point in attempting to force them into being brilliant at calculus, for example. When you child knows their areas of innate skill, too, it can really release them from unnecessary pressure in other areas.

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 .How does my child Process information?

This is a huge area, with an incredible array of information readily available. Google “learning styles” or “learning modalities” and you’ll come up with countless articles that will help expand your understanding. Discussions address how individuals process information, and typically suggest ways of presenting information so that everyone can readily take it in.

Generally, and perhaps most commonly, people take in information either a visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), or kinaesthetic (touching/doing) manner. Knowledge of our own child’s way of taking in and processing information is, I believe, essential for effective home education.

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How does my child Develop?

Not especially a fan of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, David H. Albert, in an article originally written for Canada’s , Life Learning magazine, proposed a different idea. He suggested instead, ‘nine elements of intelligence’, which impact a person’s ability to flourish. These are certainly developed traits, as opposed to the inherent tendencies which Gardner suggests.

For the home educator, I consider these Elements well worth exploring, as they outline behaviours which are essential to success in any area. They also form a “big picture” that is beyond subject constraints, and can be valued and developed across many fields.

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 What if my child just doesn’t seem Willing to learn?

Unfortunately, just because a child is educated at home, it doesn’t mean that they will automatically engage with the learning process. This can be an area of genuine struggle between parent and child, and speaking personally, i’s something we tussled with many times.

There are a number of areas which are helpful to explore, where even small changes can lead to small or even dramatic differences in attitude and aptitude. Just because you lock horns with your child, all is not lost, believe me.

In addition to this section’s article on Willingness, you might also find articles of interest in our Uniqueness section.

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As you examine this vast array of influences on how your child learns, you will see that to a very large degree, they intertwine with each other, and with other aspects of your child’s Uniqueness.

With so many aspects of your child’s (and your own) being to contemplate, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. Once again, I encourage you to read a little, think a little, talk a little, and know that all good processes do take time.

Sometimes you will read something that switches a light-bulb on in your head, so that suddenly the mists clear and you can joyfully see the way ahead. It’s great when that happens, but in my experience, effective utilisation of all good input takes time, and is worthy of the step-by-step digestion process. When that light-bulb goes on, work with that for a while, until you feel comfortable – then, and only then, go and seek some more insight.

Learning to love discovering with your child, of any age, is one of the great joys of home education.
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“The finest thing in the world is knowing how to belong to oneself.
~Michel de Montaigne


References:
[1] Nancy Knapp, quoted on SchoolFamily.com: School-Family Articles: How Girls Learn
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