As I move through my own academic career, these concepts in the readings bring me to different places. This is most likely due to the fact that I’ve had many experiences as a learner so far. The novice/expert concept brought me back to Western Washington University where I received my BA. The subject I was studying was all new information and the environment was new. This week the reading about different learning styles and teaching methodologies brings me to reflect on my experience at The Evergreen State College where I received my MA.
Mohamad Ally discusses the constructivist theory. This theory presents insight to active learners. Active learners put what they are learning in the classroom into practice and that is how deeper levels of learning take place. This reminds me of my experience during graduate school. I was enrolled in a Masters of Public Administration with a focus in Tribal Government. When I first started this program I didn’t know much about the administration of my tribal government. So after starting this program I got involved in tribal affairs. I started attending General Council meetings and public hearings. I joined commissions and attended community events. These experiences gave me the background knowledge that I needed to move forward in the program. This experience also allowed me to discuss in class what I was learning and this dialog developed into deeper conversation and deeper levels of learning. In a way I was bringing this experience back to the classroom to help the learning process.
I also joined a grassroots group that was pushing for an amendment to a tribal code. This became a major learning process for me. This grassroots group became known as the grandparents committee. These community members saw an issue in the way our courts dealt with Indian Child Welfare. Even thought there were federal laws that protected our children from being adopted outside of our community, the courts were still allowing this. The grandparents committee wanted to amend Title 8 in the Lummi Nation Code of Laws which was the Children’s Code. I started attending their meetings and soon I was in charge of the minutes for the meetings. I was even able to witness this code amendment. This experience allowed me to put to use the tools I was learning in my master’s program. I shared my experiences in class and discussed with classmates possible solutions. And through this experience I developed deeper levels of thinking about this issue.
I think in order to really understand what we are learning in school, we have to see it from another angle. At least in my own experience, I had to see these theories and tools being used in my community in order to make sense of it.
1 thought on “Putting Learning into Action”
I wish more people could pair academic education with real-world application simultaneously. This was a great opportunity for you and I’m sure it was hugely beneficial to your peers as well. So, are you a believer in Constructivism? How would you have reacted to these same opportunities when you were a freshman in college or even younger?
Actually, many programs are formally constructed in this way. Doctors do their internship and residency, nurses do as well. Teachers have practicum, and so on. It is strange, in fact, that more fields don’t have some sort of application experience built into the curriculum. (You’ll notice that a very large part of your grade in this course comes from designing and creating your own learning module.)
Maybe it was partly a product of the industrialization of education in the early 20th century that we got away from this model in many fields?
Lastly, your comment here gave me a smile, “I started attending their meetings and soon I was in charge of the minutes for the meetings.” That’s how these things go, isn’t it? If you bring interest and energy, soon you’re running the show.
Thanks for sharing!