This week’s reading was a chapter from How People Learn titled “Learning and Transfer” and an article by Wiggins & McTighe “Put Understanding First”. I found them both to be very persuasive. To summarize, learning is more than about memory recall. Learning is also about taking information you already know and applying it to completely different situations where you might need it. This happens in my GIS class right. We will learn something in one lab and then have to use that knowledge in subsequent labs. For instance, this lab on georeferencing requires us to understand map layout, raster and vector formats, and ArcGIS toolbars. These are all tools that I learned in earlier lab. I wouldn’t say this is the easiest way to learn (if you didn’t learn something well you pay later) but I do see the use in this.
I’m generally in favor of expanding the way we assess and the way we get information. After college, I was fascinated by how little my liberal arts degree in history didn’t immediately apply to any of my day jobs. But then after a couple of months, I begin to see patterns. For instance, being a history major meant I was able to contextualize large amount of information into time series. This made me particularly good at organizing reports and understanding complicated processes.
I particularly liked this quote from John Dewey in Chapter 3 “School should be less about preparation about life and more about life itself” (77). There’s something very salient about the idea that perhaps we’ve abstracted life preparation too much. At the same time, it is often tricky finding what will be useful and relevant. Certainly in library school I often look at classes and visualize how I will use them in my later career. Most likely most of my “graduate school guesses” will be incorrect. The best librarians I’ve met have an uncanny habit of speaking well of every class they had in library school saying they learned a lot from them. Perhaps the best librarians are the ones that can see learning opportunities where they can’t see the immediate application in front of them.