Learning Trends 400

I attended a learning lab at the Masie Center in January 1997, the same year that Learning Trends was launched. Elliott Masie has now published the 400th Learning Trends newsletter, available as a 39 page PDF. It comes complete with a Creative commons license, which is a great advance from the previous blanket copyright statement.

Trends400 includes comments and prognostications from a wide variety of contributors. Informal learning is frequently mentioned and it is evident that there is a growing use of open source tools for learning – two subjects dear to me. The articles submitted by dozens of readers show how your audience [learners] can be the major creators of your content.

Here is what I found to be the best piece in Trends400, as it addresses some of the core issues around human learning:

Dear Elliott, A bit more than a year ago we met in the Swiss consulate in Boston and I remember how you walked around with a Sony Play station in your hand and talked about the opportunity to use this tool for locating people with similar interests in one’s environment and to learn from or in the community.

That reminds me of the situation that taught me how I learn and how my children learn best. I was shoveling gravel to create a new patio some years ago and my son, Leonhard, then 3, wanted to help level the ground. But since he was always between my legs or just where I wanted to either take or put the gravel, I decided to create a small heap of gravel just for him. It took him about ten seconds to find out that his heap was not where he could learn what he wanted to learn. The Center of Action was clearly my shoveling and that was where he wanted to be.

So, I adapted my mode of working to enable him to participate at the Center of Action. I learned a lot from participating – maybe not being of real help – at the Center of Action. And the Center was the only place where I did not mistakenly take the wrong cues. How to watch, how to move, what is efficient, what is a problem, what counts: it is all there. I believe that each child and every learner will immediately detect whenever he or she is distracted and pulled away from the Center of Action. The children and students lacking attention are just indicators that we do not radiate the feeling of being at the Center, or worse, that we are not there and therefore cannot teach.

Ulrich Gysel

2 Responses to “Learning Trends 400”

  1. Karyn Romeis

    I’d like to take Ulrich’s anecdote and staple it to the forehead of several teachers I know. Take this situation:

    It is a science class. For the most part, the class is not particularly high performing, but there is small group of high achievers and one child in particular who is dead keen. He has the bit between his teeth and he wants to know this stuff. Science is wonderful, exciting, mindblowing, cool. Especially this stuff they did today. Did you see the way….? He wants to be a scientist. There can be no better job in the world. Imagine doing work like this all the time. And getting paid for it. He works through the set task in record time and storms eagerly up to the teacher. More. Feed me. Input. The teacher is busy working with kids who are struggling to grasp the concept in order to complete the task. He waves a hand in the direction of his desk, where there are some extension tasks for the fast finisher. The trouble is, they are just variations on the theme. The kid has already got this, he wants to move on, he wants to know more. This is like being punished for being quick on the uptake. His pace of work decreases as he works his way through the repetitive material. He is one of the smart kids – he knows he’s being fobbed off. He gets bored and starts horsing around. I wonder if I could flick this elastic band out through the open classroom door from here. I wonder if my girlfriend is thinking about me right now. I wonder if I could send her a text message without being noticed.

    Going, going, gone. And the kid’s report will say that his attitude is “causing concern”.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)