In Chapter 7, various social learning theories and their contexts within our 21st century climate are discussed. They talk about two versions of social learning that came before what they are explaining, observational learning and normative goal learning. Both of these combine into the learning type that they explain as being formed from authentic activity. It is a near 180 from normal formal education, as it tries to place learning and knowledge into context in order to learn, rather than have the knowledge as a separate entity.
They spoke a lot about creating context and embedding learning within activity so that students are more engaged and have a more authentic experience.A lot of school experience is writing up papers, doing vague projects and then taking tests. I’ve lived through how ineffective these strategies are. You do the work, cram your studying into the night before, get an A and then let all of the knowledge leave your brain because why do you care the names of every single shape, or how many members of the House of Representatives there are.
They instead push for knowledge producing initiatives. I know many higher education courses that do this, mostly business courses. They have you paired together with a real business and you do your projects with them, utilizing your in class knowledge in a real world experience that has real consequences and triumphs. It isn’t necessarily self driven, but it helps to put the knowledge into context, it will help you to retain it for a longer period of time.
They talk about how Free educational resources help to fill this gap. There are a ton of non-enrollment classes that you can take on every subject out there, from photoshop to calculus. I’ve used these sorts of programs many times to help learn about something that was a bit too complicated for a simple wiki. Khan Academy was one of my lifebloods in high school for Economics and American History. It has free lectures that involved a lot of visuals that helped me to try to understand the subjects when high school just wasn’t doing it for me. I’ve also done this with 3d animation programs. I found some free courses online to help me learn about it, step by step. There was an online community there that was around to help me too whenever I had troubles. There were a plethora of helpful sites and links for me to choose from and it helped a lot to have those resources at my fingertips. I cared a lot more about that in high school than Chemistry class.
Chapter 7 talks about this sort of phenomena, siting a very cute story about a Grandmother who learned how to mod the sims to get a purple potty for her granddaughter to put in the house. She went online and learned how to do it, not for any sort of profit, but just for fun. This sort of passion project comes around all the time, with the internet, you can really learn how to do just about anything if you put your mind to it.
Qualitative learning, focusing on how you learn rather than what you learn, is a powerful tool. If you’re learning more about why something is important, how you can use it, you’ll care more about it. Calculus was one of my hardest subjects almost entirely because I could not figure out a way that I would ever use it,or that people who weren’t scientists would even use it. Finding areas under the curve was just not important to me at all.
The Theory of the Trajectory of Passion really resonates with me. In context learning embedded in authentic activity was how I learned in school. Motivation is hard when you’re a kid trying to figure out how to diagram a sentence, but having a sort of deliberate usage would make learning a more accessible experience.