Greenleaf Presentation.3 – You Do It, You Own It

Anyone out there recall trying to teach your child how to tie their shoe laces? I remember when our second son was learning to tie his shoelaces. My memory has it that this was before velcro became a common closure for sneakers. I was thinking about teaching my son to tie his shoelaces during Bob Greenleaf’s presentation after Bob commented that:

The one who does the work is the one who learns.

This is a one-liner version of the Chinese proverb:
Tell me and I forget.
Show me and I remember.
Involve me and I understand.

Or better yet:
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.

John Dewey, educational philosopher and author of – among others – the book Experience & Education, firmly believed in the value and necessity of experience in building education.

…I have taken for granted the soundness of the principle that education in order to accomplish its ends both for the individual learner and for society must be based upon experience – which is always the actual life–experience of some individual.

However, not just any experience suffices:

Everything depends upon the quality of the experience which is had. … the central problem of an education based upon experience is to select the kind of present experiences that live fruitfully and creatively in subsequent experiences.

This all boils down to the need for personal context in order to create meaning and understanding. Turns out that if something has personal context for the learner, it will remain in working memory longer and have a greater chance of making it into long term memory.

We do not learn in a vacuum; connections and experiences are necessary, and the more there are, the stronger the likelihood of recall.


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