Tony Gurr

LOL on LOL….(from “guest blogger” – Laurence Raw)

In Guest BLOGGERS on 25/02/2011 at 5:07 pm

I wanted to try and get a few “guest-bloggers” in to share their recent learning experiences.

Laurence (who goes by the name “LOL”) pointed out that he’d never blogged….so I signed him up!

His post is a keen reminder of the beauty of “a-ha moments”….and the power of transdisciplinary collaboration….

Last week I met two colleagues from the University of Texas – one from Theatre Studies, the other from a department of Literature.

I was interested in what they were doing, and how they approached the subject of “all-things-learning”.

Lucien, the Theatre Studies colleague, began to talk about ‘adaptation‘ – with particular regard to Konstantin Stanislavski’s ideas of training young actors to adapt themselves to changing circumstances on the stage. They might have been well rehearsed, but each performance they give is different: good actors learn to adjust their technique to accommodate themselves.

As he spoke, I had a sudden flash of insight: Lucien was not simply describing a process exclusive to Theatre Studies; he was referring to the entire learning experience.

Every one of us makes the same type of adjustment – a process which is both conscious (when we learn new things from books or other information sources) and unconscious (for example, when we learn to adapt to new surroundings in schools).

This is what learning represents: once we become aware of that, then we can learn how to “think round a problem and approach it in different ways,” as Stanislavski tells us. For more, check out Phil Gyford’s commentary on Stanislavski

Next day I met James, from the University of Texas’ department of literature.

He told me about some work he’d been doing on the relationship between psychology and literature.

I yawned, and began to nod off, until I heard mention of Jean Piaget and his ideas of adaptation, more precisely summarized as a process by which children – in reading as well as in other walks of life – learn both to incorporate new ideas within existing mental structures, as well as formulating new structures of their own.

This is part of a human desire for cognitive balance or equilibration; to achieve that balance, children learn to adapt.

Again I was galvanized into life by the idea that, in this model, learning becomes something like a stream of consciousness: children (as well as adults) do not necessarily need to learn how to learn, but rather understand that this process happens all the time, from the moment they achieve awareness of the world outside.

If this is something they could be made more aware of, then perhaps the whole process of teaching-and-learning might become easier to understand.

Now…..who says that talking to colleagues from other disciplines isn’t interesting?

[LOL – you are a “star”! If anyone else is interested in sharing a similar “learning experience”, let me know]

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