What is the ability to learn and how to develop it?

How do you learn to learn? And why? It is very important for parents and students to know the answer to these questions. After all, education is not a preparation for life, it is not “added” to it, as many think. The famous Finnish psychologist Timo J√§rvilehto said very precisely that life is a constant teaching, and on the contrary, there is no life without teaching.

What is the ability to learn and how to develop it

Ability to learn as an active life position
The term “ability to learn” was born within the framework of the so-called active approach in education. You may have heard the names of the supporters and founders of this scientific school: Vygotsky, Leontief, Elkonin, Davydov.

In the activist approach, the teaching process is the activity of a student aimed at the formation of his consciousness and personality in general. In this educational development the main place is given to active, versatile and maximally independent cognitive work of the child.

It is comparable to the traditional approach. He was born in Soviet times, when the State was faced with the task of making school education mass. School education became compulsory and accessible for all children. In the 1920s, the government’s decisions achieved unprecedented results: the level of literacy in the country increased, and even children from poor working families could go to school.

The year 2020 is upon us! But the principles of traditional education still remain in most schools in Russia, albeit with minor modifications. In a traditional school, children receive knowledge, but they will never learn how to learn. Remember your school: we sit evenly, listen to the words of the teacher, do the same type of exercises. The teacher is the source of information and control. Without his constant actions, traditional learning does not happen.

How is the activity approach different from the traditional one?
Let’s give examples – let’s compare school methods with an activist approach.

Traditional education system Activity-based approach
The child receives knowledge in a ready-made form – for example, learns the rule about the sacrament. Principle of the activity: the pupil gets the knowledge himself/herself. He or she draws up the definition of the term himself or herself. To learn from this principle it is necessary to work – to find the participle in the text, to identify and identify them by common features, to formulate questions.
Children study school subjects, not seeing their systematic structure. They believe that “mathematics in life is not useful” and do not understand the relationship between the exact and human sciences. The principle of integrity is for students to form a systematic view of the world, the role and place of each science in the system of sciences. Every child knows exactly what social science lessons will be useful in life, how history and literature are related.
Students study the subjects and prepare for exams in an atmosphere of stress and tension. This is due to the framework of the education system. The school and teachers need good results to be rated, hence the stress and pressure on children. The principle of psychological comfort – there is no stress and pressure neither before exams, nor at other times. How do you learn to learn? Only in a friendly atmosphere at the lessons, using dialogue forms of communication instead of teachers’ monologues.

Does your child know how to learn?
To help you understand if your child can learn, evaluate their learning activities:

What is the ability to learn and how to develop it

Does the pupil put learning experiments at home? For example, does he grow copper sulfate or mold on bread, conduct social surveys among friends, test hypotheses? So you see manifestations of the research method of learning. The child solves a problem on its own, to which there is no answer in advance.
Does the child talk about group tasks? Does he understand his role in this work, approaches it responsibly, is very involved? This is how the group-distributed activity manifests itself. It is a teamwork to achieve one goal with independent role distribution.
Does the child evaluate their work on a given scale without comparing themselves with their classmates? Ability to learn implies adequate evaluation of the results of his/her activity. You should not compare your success with other children, but with your past achievements. A mistake is perceived as a growth point, a chance to discover your ignorance.
How do you learn to learn?
Here are three basic skills. They help organize learning activities.

Time-management. We do everything in order, we plan time.
Priorities. We say no to prostration, we don’t put things on hold anymore.
Training in a variety of activities. You can read and listen, and imagine, and touch and smell!

If your child does not know how to gain knowledge himself, it is time to develop the skills of learning. You can and should work on this skill at any age. Here are our tips on how to learn to learn:

Change the way your brain works.
Focused mode is the execution of familiar and understandable algorithms (find the house on the map, calculate the square root). Even if the task is complex, the brain is focused because it knows how to do it. Thought follows the beaten path.

Multiple mode is suitable for finding new solutions and thinking about new ideas. It’s ideal for learning how to learn – the thought goes somewhere on its own. There is no pattern in the head how to think about the unknown. Familiar patterns in the head only prevent you from thinking about something new. That’s why many artists and scientists deliberately enter a scattered mode so that the brain can tell them the solution. For example, Dali would take a key and sit in a chair. He’d start to take a nap and the thinking would disperse. As soon as the key fell out of his hand, he would wake up and write down everything that came into his head.

In scattered mode, you can’t find the answer in the usual sense. But you can find some important thought or its direction. This will be the starting point to solve the problem in focused mode.

What is the ability to learn and how to develop it

Remember correctly.
The practice of remembering is the basis of learning. The more times we remember information, the longer it will stay in our memory. Two effective remembering techniques will help us learn.

The first is delayed memory. Write a question on the card on one side and an answer to it on the other. First, it is necessary to study the content of the card, then, a day later, try to remember it. If you have correctly remembered the answer given on the back of the card, it can be postponed for a week until the next repetition. There is also a 30-second rule: after you have read the text or a useful conversation, write down the essence in 30 seconds.

The second extremely effective technique of remembering – mixing topics and types of tasks. If you are learning English, you should not artificially divide your learning into studying grammar, vocabulary and speaking skills. It is better to learn them at the same time, alternating one type of lesson with another.

Solve the problem before you learn to do it.
To learn to learn, take your time reading the rules. Try to bring them out yourself. Or imagine how and where you can apply this theory.

It doesn’t matter if you can find the right answer or not. You make an effort to “reinvent the bike” yourself before you get a ready-made answer. This will help you quickly and deeply understand a new idea or way to solve a problem.

Go from simple to complex, from general to private…
New knowledge is always tied to information that is already stored in memory. New ideas can only be understood with the help of already familiar people. To learn to learn, explain to yourself the new and complex through the old and the simple.

Faced with a complex and incomprehensible idea, try to find a simple analogy or metaphor for it. It will help you memorize the essence of new information.

Do not forget about the practice
To learn to learn, it is important to practice during learning. By thinking about something new, we create new neural connections. And the more we put these theories into practice, the more we think about them, the stronger the connections become. It’s a pattern, a road along which thought goes very quickly.

Repeat at intervals.
It’s the best way to memorize new things. The brain needs breaks to heal the neural connections, the cement’s frozen. It’s better to repeat the poem 10 times today and 10 times tomorrow than 20 times today. Even better, 2 or 3 times every day for a few days.

Examples are strength.
When the brain learns a new technique or a new theory, it’s hard to use it at once. The right neural connections have not yet developed. The example is a model of thinking. It speeds up the formation of new connections. After the above examples, it is easier to apply the theory in practice, because there is the right sample in the head for this action.

Change the environment.
We get used to the environment: at home, in class. In a different environment, it will be harder to pass the test. In order to better understand information and learn to address it in any situation, we need to remember it in different environments: in the park, on the street, on a jog.

Attach the material
The test is not a form of testing, but a learning method. For example, first you read the chapter about Newton’s laws, and then immediately remember what you read and put it into practice. It forms a powerful fragment, a well-printed template. In half an hour of testing, you will understand much more than in half an hour of notching. The test gives meaning to the information, you learn to apply it immediately in practice.

Fight the prostration.
Procrustation is a bad habit for which we are immediately rewarded. To learn how to learn, you have to overcome prokrastinacia. Focus on the process, not the product. The final product causes fear, and the process is a simple, routine action. You have tuned in that you will work for the next 20 minutes. Think about the process, not the result.
*** Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) ***