Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Learning vs Education.

Learning is defined as acquiring knowledge, skills and abilities by study, experience or being taught. But that is the result. What is the process? How do we learn?

Learning always involves self-development – learning to act differently, think differently and act differently. Learning is natural. We learn as we life and it is part of adapting to changing circumstances.

We may learn things by being taught directly in schools and in sometimes we may come to a conclusion that we are not very good at learning, when in fact we are not very good at being taught.

Learning differs from education. Education describes the results of learning and is often tested by examinations. Teaching cannot exist by itself. It is a two way process and it makes no sense to say, “I taught the subject but the student did not learn it.” This is the educational equivalent to the medical joke. ‘The operation was successful, but the patient died.”

Education is often seen as the teacher pouring knowledge into an empty vessel – the student. This is not education. This is knowledge injection. Having this presupposition leaves the teacher literally ‘drained’ and the student feeling ‘knowledge bloated’ only to take an examination where everything in the vessel is regurgitated at the right time to clear space for the next binge.

In Singapore, the education system fits this description perfectly. Many students are excellent vessels for injecting knowledge for a short period of time, and expelling the knowledge as an exploding diarrhoea -- leaving nothing much behind, just a satisfaction after the exam, knowing that it is all over.

Is this education system good? Do the student actually retain knowledge and learn? I believe the answer is dependent on the student.

Let me leave you with this thought: Education system is just like a diarrohoea, you can hold it in for a while, but you know, when the time comes, you've got to let it all out to be satisfied.

-- Iron Bowl

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