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A focus on humanizing education

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New Delhi: In a communication received from the University Grants Commission (UGC), the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Distance Education Council (DEC). Readmore...
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Old thinking

There were times when people thought that mind was to be entirely de-linked from the body. It was very much similar to the spiritual, and improvable in the same way that man sought to improve his soul.

Look of wax tablet


After the idea of the separation of mind and body broke down and the fusion of the two was accepted, the mind was still thought of pretty much as a wax tablet on which impressions could be made by an external factor. Sometimes it was compared to a piece of white paper waiting to be written upon.

Like Cistern

The mind was also likened to a cistern; and pupils were admonished to attend carefully to their teaching so that “not one drop that fell from the lips of the teacher” would be lost.

Sponge idea

The mind could “soak up” and hold learning. Such a concept although may not be acceptable many modern teachers today, nevertheless seems rather closely in line with examinations used by so many. Examinations that are properly conducted and wisely used are excellent learning experiences, but when they are used merely as a means of restoring what was previously been “poured in” and presumably “soaked up.” They are indeed a magnificent “squeeze,” and students can be excused when they come out of them as a sponge does—white from pressure and whistling for air.

Idea of Post-office

Finally, the mind was sometimes likened to a post-office with many pigeon holes into which items of information could be stuffed in. Reference to the mind as a post office suggests at once a psychological concept that was replaced later.

Faculty psychology

Under this concept mind was made up of different faculties, such as memory and reason, which could be trained and developed in isolation and, once developed, would function efficiently in all situations. Of course, the next doctrine of the Unity of the personality and of the totality of the organism in all its reactions has replaced the faculty idea.

Based on the earlier concepts listed above learning was termed as largely passive.
Learning was receiving; a kind of waiting to be impressed or filled up or cultivated.

Next thinking


Next thinking is contrast to earlier thinking. According to next thinking, the learning is an activity. It is directly attached to our behavior. Learning will not occur unless the organism reacts positively and is motivated to find solutions to its problems. The urge to perform the tasks comes from within, not from outside. If the learner himself is inactive, learning does not take place. Hence the learner has to be active, cheerful and be in his senses and when challenged, sees a purpose and objective for what is doing. Therefore, self-motivation is one of the ingredients of meaningful learning.

One’s optimum capacity to learn is not determined by whether or not he was lucky in having a sharp “mind” pent up in his body at the time of his birth. The capacity to learn is an aspect of our bodily infrastructure. This physical being includes a sensitive and complex nervous system. Certain necessities, drives and purposes highly developed means, the learning potential is superior; if they are deficient, potential is inferior. Inferior learning ability does not indicate that the curse of the gods is responsible any more than superior ability indicates the favor of the gods.

It is each individual who is the primary focus and starting point in learning. It is important to visualize this individual as confronted with a multitude of problems and challenges as the years go by. If he encounters a problem and has a desire to solve it, the stage is set for learning. If he actively and boldly tackles the problem and finds the outcome, then he has learned, which also mean that learning is nothing but solving problems through action and repeated practice. It is the change in the organism which occurs as it adjusts to series of problem situations.

It is crystal clear, now, that learning involves an active organism rather than a passive one; it is the organism ever ready to solve countless problems in its immediate environment. This fruitful attitude of self-made attack is most fundamental. It is not a matter of being a cistern. Organisms of this sort are not adaptable and are overcome by their environment. It is a matter of going to meet the problem, of finding, testing, and, of course, fixing solutions.

Learning broadens the organism’s experiences and intensifies its sense of well-being through solving its problems. Such successful experiences in adaptation give us immense satisfaction. These satisfactions, in turn, encourage us to invite more challenges. When this stops, learning and growth have come to stand still, and so has the joy of living. It all adds up to a motivated organism searching solutions to problems it has accepted as its own. It is moving out to hunt for suitable answers rather than sitting mum and waiting to be commanded.