People are unique in the animal kingdom in that expertise is passed from one generation to the next by recorded culture. People can explore, invent, experiment, record, accumulate knowledge and pass on this recorded knowledge to help them better exploit their environment and assemble sense concerning life, thus increasing their chances of success. Mastery of accumulated intuition over generations requires intentional learning, forever in a stilted educational setting. And this is negative different to primary school education. The more advanced concepts in science such when electricity, photosynthesis, chemical reactions would definitely fall into the category of recorded culture. Some of these subjects are over the daily experience of young learners, with never instantly recognisable markers to fabricate a dexterous understanding. The appearance of the teacher is often creating a bridge to the youngsters’ world through analogies with which they are familiar.
Students may come to the classroom with preconceived notions of how the life around them works and if their initial understanding is not engaged, they fail to span the basic concepts. They can take on management the new information superficially or they may learn for the purposes of a test, otherwise revert to their preconceptions outside the classroom.
The images from a children’s story, Fish is Fish, can rescue lead the essence of the above principles. In this story a young fish is very curious about the outside earthly and his good friend the frog returns from the land, telling the fish excitedly:
‘I’ve been about the world, hopping here and there and seeing exceptional things’.
‘Like what?’ asked the fish.
‘Birds’, said the frog mysteriously.
‘Birds!’ and he described birds to the fish, with wings that could fly in the sky, with two legs and many colours. As the frog talked, his friend visualised birds flying through the empyreal with wings, fish heads and bodies covered in scales.
Clearly all unaccustomed understandings are based on a foundation from existing knowledge and experienced and the younger the child, the narrower the foundation tends to be. Understanding how children actively learn from the earliest days of life can help in education strategies when at school. Research studies have demonstrated that infants as young as 3 to 4 months develop an perspicacious and expectations of the physical world. For example, via repeatedly throwing objects from their cot they absorb that objects need support to prevent them falling to the ground; that stationary objects dependence a force applied to them to move; further the rule of that force will determine the direction of motion.
Young minds are easily distracted and have short attention spans. The trick is to secure them engaged in whatever way possible, such as plenary activity, experiments they can perform either design themselves, or field trips where there is a high degree concerning self-participation. This will imitate the ways of learning of a toddler, such as discovering gravity close repeatedly throwing objects out of a cot. In turn, that cognoscitive could eventually become the students’ understanding of Newtonian physics theory. In the longer term, as that person develops yet further layers of understanding can be built on that base, breathe it Astro-physics, relativity theory, alternative quantum mechanics.
The next article in this series of three will delve deeper among the subject of teaching education with the specific example of teaching about food chains. It will highlight dangers of over-simplification in order to make a subject easier to grasp.