Learning

 

“All living is learning.” Compare the simple, crude behavior of a child with the complex modes of adult behavior, skills, habits, thoughts, sentiments, etc, one would know the difference learning has made to the individual. The individual is an active and constant relation with environment, both influencing each other. The modifications of behavior which result from this close interaction, from activity and experience, are what we understand by learning.

Human capacity to learn

So far there have been discovered no limits to man’s capacity to learn. From earliest times, however, men in positions of power or influence have suggested that the learning capacity of certain individuals or groups is severely limited and that they should not be expected to profit greatly, if at all, from education. These ineducable individuals have usually been members of minority or disadvantaged groups. But, repeatedly, when their cultural disadvantages have been removed, these groups have shown that their previous failure to learn has been due not to incapacity but to lack of fully realized opportunity.

These feelings have led educators to be much more modest and less hasty in their labeling and classifying procedures. It has been realized that labels affixed to children tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies, that those who are expected to learn usually do so, and those who are expected to fail to learn also usually do so. Hence, when educators resort to classifying children at all, they increasingly tend to use their labels as temporary rather than permanent, as saying something only about a quality of the child rather than about his person, and as something to be abandoned as soon as the child’s performance proves the label wrong.

Similarly, no one has been able to confirm any certain limits to the speed with which man can learn. Schools and universities have usually been organized as if to suggest that all students learn at about the same rather plodding and regular speed. But, whenever the actual rates at which different people learn have been tested, nothing has been found to justify such an organization. Not only do individuals learn at vastly different speeds and in different ways, but man seems capable of astonishing feats of rapid learning when the attendant circumstances are favorable. It seems that, in customary educational settings, one habitually uses only a tiny fraction of one’s learning capacities.

Complexity of Human Learning

Human learning is complex rather than simple. Learners are apt to learn more than one thing at a time. Sometimes this process is conscious as when one simultaneously or rapidly assimilates many specific items of a whole. More often, the process is entirely or partly unconscious, as when the student learns some “content” consciously but at the same time absorbs unwittingly a great deal more from interrelationships, tone of voice, and so on.

Early Childhood Education educators are therefore becoming increasingly concerned with these concomitant learning’s. They are aware that the long-term significance of the arithmetical skill that the student consciously learns may be nugatory compared with the importance of what he learns about himself as a learner, about his capacities and limits.