Sunday, December 16, 2007


If I had to name one word rapidly that I associate with learning it is coping. Coping is the capacity to deal with that which causes us cognitive dissonance...unrest with the seeming facts.

If we feel shaken by what we experience, learning is what puts us at ease until we again become shaken. We can still be shaken even with learning, but things seem more coherent and we can make sense of things.

Some people, myself included, seek out this unease in certain measures. Cognitive dissonance is a sort of excitement for us. People who have learned a lot are often able to cope with a lot of dissonance--particularly in areas where challenges relate to what we have previously learned.

But learning can also lead to short rules of thumb called heuristics, and these can lead to huge errors and really shocking dissonances if they are applied too casually. Heuristics are essential to human ways of living, but they are dangerous fire or weapons.

For me, learning isn't know-how. And learning sciences are not the technologies of training. Training is something much more rote and less interesting. Learning is about studying the possible strategies of a game rather than learning how to execute one play (which is more like training.)

One can never learn rules. Rules are always guides. Learning is something one does in the presence of rules.

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