Leaving legacy premises behind us

When we work against our brains, we will keep learning to a minimum. We will be too stressed, distracted or exhausted to absorb new ideas, insights or protocols. Most classroom instructors favor the methods that work against our brains. I suspect they are embracing one or more of the following legacy premises:

  1. genuine learning is hard work and calls for strenuous effort
  2. brains will adapt to any consistent condition and it's better to adapt to adversity than easy street
  3. if students struggle with the material, they will never feel confident enough to challenge the under-prepared or disqualified instructor
  4. when students find learning to be difficult, they will depend on the instructor for more expertise, evaluations and remediation
  5. when learning is made too easy, the students will act defiant and become a behavior problem in the classroom
  6. when learning is made difficult, students learn to respect authority and to prepare for employment in hierarchies
  7. when learning is easy to come by, it's equally easy to forget -- unlike learning that was hard-won and memorably challenging

When we work with our brains, we learn more right now and continue learning throughout life. We will be invigorated, focused and motivated to absorb new ideas, insights and protocols. When classroom instructors favor methods that work with our brains, they may be relying on some of this second set of premises:

  1. learning occurs naturally when we're calm enough to be curious, creative and confident
  2. brains that adapt to inquiry, theorizing  and experimentation are better prepared than those fitted to compliance and conformity
  3. when students feel confident enough to challenge authorities, they will feel they can challenge their own partial understandings and false assumptions too  
  4. when students succeed at teaching themselves what they need to grasp, they will value how instructors teach themselves more each day
  5. when learning is set up to fall into place, students learn to trust uncertain processes of losing their confusion, misunderstandings and over-confidence 
  6. when learning is made difficult, students will become more resourceful if given access to peers and mentors who can assist personal progress
  7. when learning is put to immediate use, it becomes easily retained and recalled in subsequent situations that call for that practiced use

Embracing this second set of premises might occur when instructors learned from how they have been working against our brains. They might start challenging their assumptions, legacy practices and current level of effectiveness. On the other hand, they might persist with keeping their own learning to a minimum, do the same for their students and stick with the first set of premises indefinitely.

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