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How we learn and why is it important -part1

The following series of articles are based on a workshop I ran at Limmud on How we learn, career choices and procrastination- insights from Neuroscience

Many have wondered what the role of education is; is it, as the famous quote by Socrates ‘education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel’ or the statement known by Albert Einstein, ‘Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.’

Anyone in education would probably agree that nations have spent a lot of resources, infrastructure, and funding on developing curriculums and anything related to it, such as textbooks and workbooks. All to ensure that our young generations are equipped with skills and knowledge to become independent and contributing members of society.

Learning is in the heart of education and encompasses so much more than just ‘filling of the vessel’ and more of the challenge of ‘kindling of a flame.’ For generations, educators asked about how to motivate and stimulate learning in schools. How many of us have gone through our school years learning from one exam to another just to forget what we learned within a week or so. No wonder the quote by Albert Einstein kept us wondering what remains in our brain after schooling.

A new trend is emerging, though, towards learning beyond schooling and more towards lifelong learning. With an average life expectancy of 90-95 years, one must consider that the old paradigm that studies finish in our 20sor 30s is no longer applicable. We must keep adapting to the changes around us brought by the rapid pace of technological advancement. If retirement is still at the 60th -70th milestone, there are still quite a few years to be engaged.

If our intention is toward lifelong learning, we should probably find ways to improve it. And this is where neuroscience (the study of the brain) can bring insight into the way we learn.

It is also important to teach our students not only what we want them to learn or do but also effective processes for learning and productivity. As these are the key to long term success (even in difficult subjects and tasks). 

Watch this space as I explore the practicality of this notion of life long learning, sharing tools methods and attitude to assist us in this life long journey