Learning

What is Knowledge?

Knowledge is understood information that is stored in the mind and can be used anytime when required. There is a traditional saying: 'Knowledge is power'. This should be amended to 'Knowledge is power, only if it can be used'.

What is Learning?

Learning is the ability of an individual to analyze information and process it into knowledge. Information is the spark that ignites the learning process which comes from outside the mind via language and, inter alia, life experiences and repetitive actions and from thoughts inside the mind. It is the thinking from within the mind that provides the catalyst for independent learning.

Learning of course is more than just academic; it also involves understanding oneself, learning how to deal with people and the circumstances that challenge and confront us on a daily basis.

The effectiveness of learning is dependent on:

  • How well the information is understood – this depends upon the source and nature of the input i.e. if it is language-based, is it via reading or listening, is the structure simple, complex, abstract, concrete, visual in nature or does it come from the impact of an experience or the frequency of doing something? Or is it thoughts emanated from within the mind. If so then the information is fully understood because it has already been processed.
  • How the information combines with previous knowledge and experiences – there must old knowledge or a platform for new knowledge to build on.
  • The ability of individuals to think and do for themselves – this provides the basis for independent learning and self discovery. I assume this is something that is either inherited or  can also be acquired over a period of time through practice. I strongly believe this is the most crucial ingredient for effective learning to occur.

Why is promoting independent learning and thinking for oneself important?

  • It leads to further learning by asking oneself more questions in a search for more answers, then analyzing, testing, confirming, making mistakes and learning from them.
  • If an individual is a poor thinker then his or her ability to learn is limited, irrespective of the clarity of the language presented and the efforts made to maximize understanding. For example, two students are fed exactly the same information which is: 'According to statistical information the population of India will increase from 1.2 billion people to 1.7 billion by the year 2060' The statement is equally understood by both but the poor thinker will have a blank mind or be thinking of his or her next trip to India or be waiting for the teacher to ask the next question. The thinker will automatically react with astonishment and think immediately what the consequences would be in such matters as food shortages,  poverty issues, infrastructure planning, birth-control introduction and unemployment and will continue to search for answers.
  • It provides further motivation and boosts confidence because the individual can achieve alone without always relying on outside help.
  • Learning becomes infinite because each piece of new knowledge becomes the stepping stone for other knowledge to build on.