If you are one of the few who knows the secret password, you can join this site here.

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
— A Einstein

The most important learning skills that I see children getting from games are those that support the empowering sense of taking charge of their own learning. And the learner taking charge of learning is antithetical to the dominant ideology of curriculum design. By definition, curriculum design means assigning to experts the job of deciding the best way for each individual to learn each subject. The power of the idea taking responsibility for its own learning applies to all learning. It is sheer mystification to suggest that no principles can be shared by all forms of learning. Saying that the learner is in charge does not mean that everyone has to reinvent every wheel. Good learners will recognize the limits of their inventiveness and seek help. In the past, the opportunities for school-age people to do this effectively were extremely limited. They still are today. But the presence of digital technologies is rapidly moving us into a period where learners can learn what they need to know on their own agenda rather than on the predetermined agenda of a curriculum. We will soon be able to give up the assembly line model of grade after grade, exercise after exercise.

— Seymore Papart

Pardon me for talking about children. I don't mean to, but the sources I have are talking about educating children. That's not what I am about here. This is about adults learning, adults that already know how to teach children. I don't know how to do that. I imagine that a lot of time it's like this:

Don't try to engage my enthusiasm, because I haven't got one.
— Marvin the paranoid android, Douglas Adams

Teaching adults, on the other hand, adults who want to learn and who know how learning works… that should be easy, right?

No, I'm sure it isn't. But it should at least be possible. And the way I am going to do it is guided by Papert, Pirsig and Alexander. One of whom was not a teacher and didn't think he was talking about teaching, and the rest who's ideas may be out of fashion. The reason I'm doing that is this:

If the grades are removed the class is forced to wonder each day what it's really learning. The questions, What's being taught? What's the goal? How do the lectures and assignments accomplish the goal? become ominous. The removal of grades exposes a huge and frightening vacuum… You have to create some goal for the class to work toward that will fill the vacuum.

— Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The goal, of course, is to understand the subject so well that, as Einstein says, you can explain it simply. But by itself that might be a difficult yardstick to use day-by-day. So I will defer to Pirsig:

…if a student turned in a bunch of dumb references or a sloppy outline that showed he was just fulfilling the assignment by rote, he could be told that while his paper may have fulfilled the letter of the assignment it obviously didn't fulfil the goal of Quality, and was therefore worthless.

Now, in answer to that eternal student question, How do I do this? that had frustrated him to the point of resignation, he could reply, 'It doesn't matter how you do it! Just so long as it's good.' The reluctant student might ask in class, 'But how do we know what's good?' but almost before the question was out of his mouth he would realize the answer had already been supplied. Some other student would usually tell him, "You just see it.' If he said 'No, I don't,' he'd be told, 'Yes, you do. He proved it.' The student was finally and completely trapped into making quality judgments for himself. And it was just exactly this and nothing else that taught him to write.

— id

That's not all the Pirsig that I will be using, and it is a very small part of the book, no more than a grounding of the abstract ideas that form his main thrust, but you can read a more extended excerpt here.

Logo from an original by kirstyhall http://www.flickr.com/photos/fragiletender/
CC Atribution Sharealike

Banner from an original by Mick E. Talbot http://www.flickr.com/photos/25258702@N04/
CC Attribution Noncommercial Sharealike

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License