What is learning? This question seems so easy to answer because I believe I have been learning since I can remember. But then again, what is learning? It took me more than a month to finally force myself to come up with a ‘concrete’ definition of learning. Prior to studying module 1, my definition of learning is ‘Learning is a lifelong process of explorations and discoveries, acquiring knowledge and making sense of life experiences in order to improve the quality of our lives’. Having exhausted all that I have learned about learning, and comparing to Schunk definition of learning which is ‘Learning is an enduring change in behaviour, or the capacity to behave in a given fashion, which results from practice or other forms of experience.’ (Schunk, 2012), I can say that somehow, my definition of learning and that of Schunk’s are similar. Here, Schunk gave three elements of learning, namely: 1) change, 2) endurance over time, and 3) consequence of experience. Going back to my definition, I think I have satisfactorily incorporated the three elements. However, after going through the many readings and resources for module 1, I can say that learning is so much more. What I am sure of right now is that my definition of learning will again be ‘refined’ along the way. So let me look back on my learning journey…
How did I learn before? So far I can say that in terms of academics, I have travelled fairly well. I finished my engineering degree on time, I was able to enrol for a diploma course then decided to pursue masteral (although I was not able to finish it), and now, I am into professional teaching course. When I was just starting on my career, I set goals about my (future) family and career. I remember making timelines. In it were the things I want to have like cars, houses, and more properties (you name it). Moreover, I set goals for life’s major events such as getting married, having kids, finish graduate school (even post PhDs), and be successful as I have always dreamt of. Yes, back then good education was my ticket to accomplish all these goals. So I was focused with my studies. As a student, I think I learned to study to the test. Learning was all about putting the course syllabus to heart, making sure that I successfully finish all requirements. Now that I am into ‘formal’ (I paid for a tuition, this is not free so I must strive to do harder, sayang ang pera!) learning again, I realized that my study habits or my attitude is still the same. Yes, I still have to learn so many things.
I looked at my transcript of records, diploma, and certificates. I accumulated ‘evidences’ of my learning. Yet I am not confident that I learn because honestly, I have not really gain mastery of my subjects in college. My learning was not that deep, it was all superficial. All those higher Mathematics and engineering subjects, I think they just went down the drain. Most of what I learned in school was not what I needed in real life. I don’t think that my education corresponds to what my job demands. So this experience made me realize that to stay competitive in the workforce, we must not stop learning. We should not be content in having a university degree because whether we like it or not, we need work to earn incomes that provides for our needs and wants. To learn more will give us the advantage in life—job promotion, confidence, or just more determination to be at the top of whatever endeavours we are in.
How should I learn now? Module 1 of this course talks about the many different theories in learning and how it can impact both our own learning and teaching. As aspiring teacher myself, I need to maximize my learning in order for me to become the effective (critically reflective) teacher that I would like to be. I shall look into details on how I apply all these theories of learning covered in the succeeding modules. But for now, my take away for module 1 is that our learning needs awareness, a conscious effort on our part to continuously seek to apply and test theories and principles that we gain through learning. We have to be critically reflective and have to put into writings (like eJournal) as these will serve as reference in explaining our learning/teaching experiences. Having said that, allow me to write the new concepts that I learn. From now on, I will continue to develop theoretical knowledge about content and pedagogy (Technical Rationality) that will eventually be called Practise-based theory due to further improvement in the knowledge developed. Moreover, I will adapt and experiment with the different practises, applications, and development of theories, hence the Theory-in-use. Finally, I will synthesis these theories and practices to become tacit knowledge. And the learning cycles go on and on. It never stops!
What then is learning? In the above definition, learning has three elements. Now, I can say that learning has much more elements in it. Learning is alive and dynamic. It is a lifelong process. We have to maximize our own learning to benefit from it, whether in teaching or across various discipline. We have to cultivate our learning or else it becomes stunted. Our learning should manifest in our interactions or dealings with others because eventually, the goal of learning is finding meaning to life and appreciating our very existence. Learning therefore is life itself.