Teaching isn’t done properly because the knowledge of the way we learn isn’t proper.

Before we consider the ways we must revise teaching, we need to define learning.

Simply, it is acquiring a skill or ability not possessed before. To gain the power to do a task.

Learning, Really

What you’re really trying to do when “learning,” is to find where you “fall down,” or fail at a task. What it is that keeps you from doing something, be it constructing a house or solving a math equation.

It is finding the thing that is limiting you.

Recall that walking is quite complicated. You have to learn a type of “controlled falling,” after first learning to move your body, then crawl, then stand, then take baby steps, and even then you still have jogging, jumping, skipping, climbing, running and taking stairs to learn. A lot of work.

And talking is quite complicated. Comprehension of spoken language, knowing a plethora of words, listening, formulating a response, recalling and identifying words, speaking, waiting for a response and comprehending it.

Yet walking and talking, sometimes reading, are things people can do before entering school.

If you could learn those complicated things, you probably can learn a lot of other things. Including things you were told are “hard.”

There’s more to it than that.

What if someone tells you to go learn Mongolian.

“But I don’t want to learn Mongolian,” you might reply.

There it is right there — there has to be desire involved to motivate learning. So, desire and motivation.

And then there's the case where you already know how to do something, though it seems like it's something that would have to be taught to you.

A pool player explained in his book how, when he was only about four or five years old, some pool players were teasing him that he should try a round. His dad had to lift him up to the table, and working with that long, “adult-sized” pool cue, he completed a pool shot perfectly, sinking the ball without ever having had played before, while the men stood around with gaping mouths.

If you already know how to do something (perhaps you’re a “visual learner” who picks up from watching things being done), why do you need to go to a classroom to learn it? It's a waste of time. That child who hadn't played pool before (but presumably had watched) might actually have something to teach the adults, interestingly enough.

Incomplete Learning?

We don't learn everything that we’re taught, yet somehow we muddle through. It doesn't help that we're taught what someone guesses we should know, or what someone thinks we can learn.

The learning has to take priority over the teaching, and it's a muddled situation, since the known principles of learning, let alone teaching, aren't very complete.

Modes of Learning

We do realize that people have different modes of learning, but don’t act on that knowledge. On the other hand, some feel it is a “lack of respect,” to “criticize,” their teaching methods, when of course, they are the disrespecters, not considering or allowing for variation in the way people learn.

Instead of progressing with those teaching methods, it continues as a parade of absurdities. Like the misuse of the findings of The Bell Curve, a 1994 book. That seems to be an excuse to justify the failings of teaching, by the claim that an invariant proportion are going to be “dregs” anyway. With this kind of “wisdom,” it’s no wonder society is a shambles.

The Bell Curve data has been criticized by some, and attempts have been made to discredit it, but it has not been repudiated. Nor should it be. The attacks occurred because they turned it political, saying that it criticized other races. There's always that same flurry of misinfo when you touch the sore spot on the SJWs and other, assorted, hysterical, vermin. To be clear, we don't have to make anything political for the purposes of this discussion, or tread in those muddy waters, when it's not the Bell Curve results that are at fault, but our interpretation of what to do in our application of the information.

“The Bell Curve,” refers to the distribution of intelligence in the population. Researchers discovered it takes the shape of a typical bell when plotted on a graph. High and low intelligence cohorts have relatively low quantities, the bulk of the population measures as “average.” It's something that's pretty obvious on inspection. Really, it just goes with the territory of our definition of “average.”

But consider this: everyone at school has learned to speak, walk, (often) read, and interact with others. These are advanced subjects, just ask someone trying to learn a new language. Yet we’re ready to roll out the dumpster to trash a large proportion of the class because “they fall onto the low end of the Bell Curve!”

It’s not just an absurdity, it’s evil.

Let’s qualify that: If they don’t try to change on receiving this information, they demonstrate evil. What is evil? A large part of it can be attributed to unrepentant stupidity.

The misuse of the “Bell Curve” results as an excuse to grade students on that same pattern, is a huge, obscene logical fallacy, the error of misapplication, and, failure of reciprocity, on the part of the educational establishment.


The answer is a two-parter. First, if they're going to insist on the “Bell Curve,” then teachers also must fall into the “Bell Curve.” That means there will be outstanding teachers, and also bottom of the barrel trash. So why should students be punished for the failings of those dreg teachers?

The second point is the basis for a solution. It's obvious on inspection that human intelligence spans a broad range, but that doesn't mean what people are taught and can learn has to fall on the same distribution! The point cited above, that speaking and walking and social skills are “hard,” was to illustrate that a broad range of the population can learn “difficult” things. Man makes things difficult in his ignorance, pride and stupidity. Like “Calculus,” which is a simple concept when explained properly, but they wield that like a weapon in “educational facilities,” because that's the folly of mankind.

To emphasize, the use of the Bell Curve in grading is misguided, and is a ruse that offloads the responsibility from bad teachers. So, it's irresponsible. There’s no particular reason why almost everyone can’t learn at an “A” level, even if we aren’t trying to make everybody Picassos or whomever. Not everyone has to be a “phenomenon,” or “savant.” Yes, there is a wide variety in the skill levels of individuals, but, most people are good enough to get through a broad-based education, and even something much more demanding, as they used to in the past.

Anyway, wasn’t there that movie, Stand and Deliver, with Lt. Castillo teaching some dopey high-schoolers how to do math, and they won a bunch of competitions or something? Of course there was!

A learner needs to find his or her skills and talents, plus how to fight through areas where he or she is lacking.

A teacher needs to find the places people are making errors, and find the tricks and tactics that can help them overcome those errors.

And those things are easy, once we sincerely examine learning. For the most part, learning is doing. So, it should mean practice, rehearsal, putting into action the things being taught. That means nothing passive, no boring lectures. Students should be constantly doing exercises or mini-tests or giving feedback. That's very important. It means anything not active, must be discarded.

There are those that excel at rote learning, but that's a meaningless sort of “learning,” implying that books contain “the last word,” when most everything to do with human achievement and understanding is dynamic, and there's always more to learn about a topic. It's no glory to have memorized the contents of a textbook, then, but to actually create or innovate, or even duplicate something, is an accomplishment.

Instead of talking about producing nylon, say, in Chemistry class, actually make it, by walking the students through all the steps involved in its discovery and creation. The class should proceed by synthesizing the acids, monomers and precursors and considering the ideas and misconceptions that arose in the original chemists who made it. The only way to get a real handle on these complexities is to step through the process. Same in, say, math, where we might step through the ideas of earlier pioneers in working with different numerical bases in math, like base 2, base 5, base 12, and what problems might have given rise to thinking about that in the first place.

Expert Skills

Complicated, advanced learning, is compulsion and obsession. For Master-level chess players, for example, chess is their profession, but it goes beyond that, as they're spending maybe 16 hours a day at chess, just to stay sharp.

We may become drawn to certain things, as though compelled to do them. A semi-pro poker player I spoke with explained that he reviewed every hand from the day’s play in his mind in bed at night.

You can see how he’s going the extra mile. If you aren’t compelled to do that in the first place, you probably aren’t going to be a good poker player, because how do you then compete with the constant effort, both of incessant review, and the effort that went into learning how to retain all those memories of the hands? Someone else, of a different mindset, talent and abilities, might call it “boring.”

Compelled to do it. A compulsion. So, it is important to recognize that the player is good at poker because he is compelled to do things like review every hand in his head, and has the patience and drive to do so. That is to say, it’s something he just does. You’ll note, someone who is getting good at something often “seems obsessed with it.”

Also, you won’t be a good poker player if your principal, or only, motivation is to win lots of money. Simple as that.

No one ever tells you a necessary skill in poker is to lie around obsessively reviewing hundreds of poker hands from your game that day. There's an implied ability there as well, to mentally log all those many, many poker hands. In itself, that is a talent.

We talked about high-level chess players earlier. They can visualize the board and play blindfolded, they can tell you the results of games from years in the past, along with their other abilities like pattern recognition — is that talent, a born ability, an acquired skill? A skill that some or all can acquire? Perhaps many can, with that strategy of compulsive exposure, rehearsal and practice.

But: the talent drives the desire drives the behavior (practice, constant repetition) drives the learning drives the talent. Pick your starting point. In the end, regardless of the ultimate level they reach, everyone will be able to progress to higher ground, by using effective learning strategies.


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