Defragmenting the Human Mind

More Efficient Thinking and Learning

Language education, and many other kinds, fill the mind with all manner of trivia, from which the word trivial is derived. This information is like specs of information on a hard drive, fragmented and difficult to use. The mind must be freed from this disorganization to progress in a more relaxed and efficient manner.

I would like to return to doing more teaching and tutoring, but one psychological barrier is knowing how people are educated beyond my capacity to influence. People are bombarded with facts and figures in an effort to “spray and pray” as if firing an assault rifle in fully automatic fire mode. The hope is that enough information will “hit” the student and “stick” within him or her long enough to do some good. Students then cram for tests one after another, advancing to the next level without any firm grasp of their knowledge.

It is one thing to learn something; it is quite another to understand something. This difference creates a great deal of grief over a lifetime.

To start to understand things, they must be made simpler; they must be taught slower; they must be explained with clarity; and they must be shown more than once in a natural, comfortable manner. Both the conveyor of knowledge and the recipient of knowledge must become comfortable with the subject.

Another computing concept explains this idea well. RISC means Reduced Instruction Set Computer. In other words, it means a computer that is more efficient, and therefore, does not have to work as hard. It’s computing smarter, not harder.

Through the avoidance of waste, proper instruction methods appear to be moving slower at any particular moment of time, but achieve their medium and long term goals faster than traditional methods. More importantly, knowledge that is linked together (i.e. not fragmented) leads to understanding: first, of little things; later, of much larger things.

Thus the paradox: the best way of teaching I know will appear to be time inefficient (even though it is not), but will give people greater certainty in their knowledge (if they participate).

Tutoring is, I believe, the cause of repairing the damage done by violent collisions between students and modern education systems. This is just as much true for teenagers and children dumped on the wayside of the great conveyor belt as it is for adult learners who are unable to make a breakthrough when crammed into language learning sessions with little time for individual assistance.

You can teach facts and figures on an industrial scale, but you cannot teach understanding like this. It is also too irresponsible to say, that is something for people to find on their own; it is simply the duty of others to provide input. This places the responsibility for the output on the vessel being filled with knowledge. Failure is deemed to be the failure of the vessel; bad child, stupid adult.

That is not good enough.

A great deal of entirely intelligent people are being failed by this system. They are being shown pieces of a puzzle without any sense of how to put the puzzle together.

The good teacher should teach learners how to string together pieces of related knowledge and make those pieces more useful as a whole than as a collection of parts.

That is how we can defragment the human mind.

It’s just a matter of how to do it. – J

J Sensei

About J Sensei

Blogger, writer, linguist, former Japanese> English translator, rusty in French, experienced in Japanese, fluent English native. Writing for Technorati.com and various blogs. Skype: jeremiah.bourque (messages always welcome). E-mail: jeremiahbourque@gmail.com
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