Learning is an active process

One of the worst things that a student can believe is that learning is a passive process – that being taught is the same as learning, and that the main thing that differentiates a student who learns little and a student who learns a lot is the skill of the teacher.

Unfortunately, this idea is promoted by:

  • schools and apps, which can compete on ease rather than the far more difficult standard of efficacy,
  • teachers, who don’t have to produce or correct homework, tests, or any other tools by which students might practice and assess,
  • and students, who find the idea that useful knowledge can come with all the effort of watching TV very appealing.

Learning is an active process requiring focus and effort on the part of the student, and a process that involves use, assessment, and correction.

This situation brings to mind the old joke:

I love exercise. I could watch it all day.

You don’t learn to play golf by having someone tell you the rules of the game and some tips on how to swing a club, then watching a lot of golf on TV. You learn by swinging the club, making mistakes, and having those mistakes corrected. Over and over.

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