Believing in Students: The Power to Make a Difference

Believing in students is not simply telling them that you believe in them. These words matter only if they are true and if you demonstrate them by your actions. There is no way to fake it, because kids have built in crap detectors, and they can tell if you don’t mean it. Here are some ways to express it.

1. Stop Using Rewards

Rewards are not needed if you believe in a student. The reward implies to them that they only way you can get them to do something is to pay them. That is the opposite of believing.

2. Encourage Effort More Than Achievement

Not every child can meet the unrealistic goals of a test-mad curriculum. Every child can try to do his or her best. Ironically, the harder students are encouraged to try, the better they do on our crazy high-stakes testing.

3. Give Second, Third and Fourth Chances

In many states, the law says, “Three strikes and you’re out.” In most schools, the most troubled kids get only one strike. The message is, “Be the way we want or we don’t want you.” School is for all children and mistakes are part of the learning process, not just for academics, but also for behaviour. Rather than strike them out, teach them the skills they need to overcome their deficiencies.

4. Don’t Say “You Failed” – Say “You Haven’t Done It Yet”

Encourage hope by letting students know that, no matter what they do, they can still do better. Safety always comes first in a school environment, of course. Sometimes safety concerns override points 3 and 4, but not as often as we think.

5. Increase Opportunities to Learn

The children who need recess the most are the first ones to lose it. Being removed from field trips, the cafeteria, library and all other learning opportunities only makes students less able to handle them in the future. No one would say to a basketball player, “You missed too many foul shots. You can’t practice until you get better.” It is time to stop giving more opportunities to those who have already proven they are successful while denying opportunities to those who need them the most.

If we can start reaching out to kids who just need the reassurance that someone do believe in them sooner rather than later, who knows how many lives could be changed?

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Good and Inspiring Teachers can propel us to learn better

Teaching is a profession that forms the foundation of all the other professions. Without the learning acquired from teachers, no one can be developed into respectable professionals like doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers and many others.

Education can be a head game…an affair of the mind. But teaching is an affair of the heart. If you are like me, you probably can think of one or two teachers in your lifetime that have changed how you view yourself and the world, and thus, helped change your future. Those ‘magicians’ are the ones that challenge us; encourage us to dream and to achieve.

A good teacher is one who make his/her students learn spontaneously, unconsciously and willingly with no strings attached. Teaching that is done sincerely from the heart is able to touch the learners in a way that books cannot do in any way. Hence, a good teacher does play a critical role in a child’s learning journey.

A teacher not only teach and imparts skills and knowledge to the pupils, he/she also acts as a mentor and role model for the pupils.

In my opinion, there are three factors that make a good teacher who can effectively make a difference to a child’s learning.

First of all, we need to acknowledge that there is a difference between having the intellectual knowledge and being able to share or teach it so that students are able to benefit from that knowledge. Hence, a person with a high intellectual knowledge may not be a good teacher if he is unable to stand in front of a class and impart his intellectual knowledge effectively.

Secondly, a good teacher teaches with a heart. This essentially means that the teacher is able to see each student as an individual and not just one in a class of forty pupils. The teacher must be willing to make the extra effort to engage his students and ensure that every student in his class is able to “get it”. This may involve additional hours spent after class, over the weekend so as to ensure that those who might not grasp the essence of the lesson the first time would now fully comprehend the topic.

Thirdly, the teacher must be willing and able to introduce innovative and meaningful ways of teaching to engage his students and capture their attention at all times. Hence, the traditional “Ï talk, you listen” approach certainly needs some revamping. A good teacher needs to recognise that every student learn differently. Hence, he must be willing and able to invest time in exploring the answers to “how else can I teach so the students will learn and absorb the knowledge much more effectively.”

However, I do believe that some of the qualities of a good teacher are ‘ín-born’ while some are cultivated in the upbringing of the teacher himself. Besides, a passion to teach can also make a great difference to the effectiveness of the teacher.

In a nutshell, to be a good teacher, one has to have the aptitude, passion and love for teaching and keen in children development. Any teacher who is lacking in any one these attributes can make a lot of differences to a child’s learning process.

I am especially grateful that my son has a few very dedicated teachers who really spend a lot of time and effort to prepare him for the coming PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) exams.

Let us all pay tributes to our teachers who have once imparted their knowledge and skills to us with all their hearts and soul which makes us the useful individuals we are today!

 

The effects of homework on learning

Homework

Homework… should we or shouldn’t we assign homework to students? What are the benefits and what are the drawbacks? Are we really helping our learners develop their language skills or are we merely complicating their lives? Here are my favourite four arguments for and against giving learners homework:

The case for #1: Class time isn’t enough and learners need extra practice

Homework should, above all else, serve to review and build upon what has been learned in class, or to offer further practice of something that was new and particularly tricky. With this in mind, make sure that whatever homework you assign can be completed by learners independently and with relative ease.

Homework that gives the student an opportunity to further practice what he or she has just learned in class to further fix the concepts in their mind can be extremely worthwhile. Ideally, it should be something that is useful but that might have been boring had it been done in class (such as a gap fill exercise).

KEY QUESTIONS:
•Does this build on what you did in class?
•Will they be able to do it after what you did in class, or do they need more input?
•Is it something that would, realistically, have been a waste of class time, in terms of not maximizing their contact with you as their teacher?

The case against #1: People need a life

If you teach adults, it’s almost entirely likely that they will have a work life and a social life outside of your classroom. Are you really doing them a favour by eating into this time with your demands that they do extra study?

If you teach young learners, these children need unstructured play time to become social creatures more than they need homework from you. Homework can have a negative influence on learning experiences.

Adults in particular will feel guilty about not doing the work you’ve assigned… or resentment about having to do it when they should be getting on with something else. This will affect how they feel about your class and not in a good way. Children will also be negatively affected by the addition of homework.

IF YOU REALLY MUST…
•Find out how much time your learners have to do homework and assign work accordingly.

The case for #2: Homework helps learners remember the things they’ve learned in class

Homework can do a great job of reinforcing the content of lessons, and provides a valuable opportunity for extra practice… before they have a chance to forget everything! Basically, homework should always supplement and mentally click that ‘I remember’ button, so don’t assign new material because there’s a big chance that A) they will not understand it, and B) they will become frustrated with the tasks, as well as being less open to discussing the work in class later on. This point is particularly important with classes that you see infrequently, as they have many chances to forget what you did in the last class!

KEY QUESTIONS:
•Is this a useful reminder and revision of a tricky new language point?
•Does it present new concepts?
•Does it go over something you did in class but in a slightly different way?

The case against #2: Let’s face it, you don’t really know what you’re doing

As qualified as you might be and with as much knowledge of teaching pedagogy as you might have, do you honestly believe you know exactly what you’re doing when you assign homework? What objectives are you aiming to cover? How will this further your learners’ ability to do whatever it is you’ve done in class? Granted, a lot of coursebooks have workbooks which are largely intended for self study, but you nevertheless have to be careful that there is a definite purpose behind what you’re assigning.

IF YOU REALLY MUST…
•Consult your learners and ask them what they see as an appropriate follow-up task for them to do at home to supplement what you have done in class.

The case for #3: Homework can help learners make more rapid progress in their language acquisition

Homework can provide valuable practice of the skills learned in the classroom. We know that we are pushed for time and that each lesson is valuable contact time. We don’t want to be going into too much detail or doing too many tasks on one language point, regardless of whether or not the learners need it. At some point, you need to provide ways for that practice to take place in the learners’ own time, so you can get on with new stuff next lesson!

KEY QUESTIONS:
•Does it compliment what you’ve done in class in a useful way?
•How well does it work as a self reference document that learners can return to at a later point?

The case against #3: Homework doesn’t lead to better performance

Too much homework can be a bad thing. Research indicates there is a weak link between achievement and homework, particularly in young learners. Furthermore, countries that assign more homework don’t outperform those with less homework. Countries such as America and the UK have relatively high levels of homework in schools and yet don’t show a correlation with high performance. Japan is one country that has taken the opposite route, having instituted no homework policies at younger levels to allow family time and personal interests. Finland, one of the most successful nations in terms of international tests, limits high school homework to half an hour per night. While a small amount of well thought out homework can be beneficial, assigning excessive amounts of homework is at best counterproductive.

IF YOU REALLY MUST…
•A good tactic, particularly for teachers of young learners, is to assign homework for improving study skills, rather than learning.
•Assign homework that is uncomplicated and short, which involves families or friends, and which above all engages learner interests.

The case for #4: Homework can allow learners to use materials and other sources of information that are not always available in the class room

Some of us have the luxury of computers and projectors in class, others do not. Some exercises that are on the net work best as self study materials anyway. Think about the resource you want learners to use and in particular whether it is more suited to classroom use or for personal study. Furthermore, assigning research tasks that require learners to go out into the wider world and independently find resources that link to what you did in class can be a useful and motivating activity.

KEY QUESTIONS:
•Does the task work better as homework than it would in the classroom environment?
•How can you get learners to find a resource that develops on what you did in class?

The case against #4: They don’t really need it

People are constantly learning in the 21st Century and traditional homework should become obsolete within the next decade. Thanks to technology, learning is now a constant in our lives. With access to applications, software programs, as well as educational websites such as the Khan Academy, learning is an ongoing process. So much of what learners can access is through the medium of English that it is unlikely that they can spend many days of their lives without acquiring some knowledge of the language from their everyday environment.

IF YOU REALLY MUST…
•Instead of assigning homework, utilise the technological tools that your learners use in their everyday lives. Get them doing something in English with their phones or on Facebook.

Summing up

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of homework, but used correctly it can be a good teaching tool. To use it effectively, you have to ensure that it is benefiting your learners and that the exercises you give them are not merely busy work.

Students Benefit from Learning That Intelligence Is Not Fixed

Teaching students that intelligence can grow and blossom  with effort – rather than being a fixed trait they’re just born with – is gaining traction in progressive education circles. And new research from Stanford is helping to build the case that nurturing a “growth mindset” can help many kids understand their true potential.

The new research involves larger, more rigorous field trials that provide some of the first evidence that the social psychology strategy can be effective when implemented in schools on a wide scale. Even a one-time, 30-minute online intervention can spur academic gains for many students, particularly those with poor grades. The premise is that these positive effects can stick over years, leading for example to higher graduation rates; but long-term data is still needed to confirm that.

In fact, well-designed tests of simple and relatively inexpensive growth-mindset interventions had surprisingly shown improvements in students’ grades over weeks or months. For instance, promising results from a famous experiment have led psychology researchers Carol Dweck and Lisa Blackwell to start up Mindset Works, a company that offers a computer-based program called Brainology.

However, all the original intervention studies were small and left some educators and policymakers unconvinced. “Some folks, I think, are skeptical just because the effects are big and because they come from something that’s so small,” said Stanford behavioral scientist David Paunesku. “And I think it’s fair that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” There were doubts, too, whether the classroom-based growth-mindset techniques would work if broadly put into practice without intensive training or supervision from the experts who developed them.

“There’s so much more good that could come if we could effectively communicate to teachers and train teachers how to do this in day-to-day classroom practices.”
To address those issues, Dweck, Paunesku and associates started the Stanford Project for Education Research That Scales (PERTS) with the goal of conducting large-scale randomized, controlled trials of distilled mindset interventions that were briefer and could be easily delivered by internet. The program, which is directed by Paunesku, collaborates with schools in testing various experimental psychology strategies for shifting the ways students think about their education, so as to motivate them to work hard.

A Light Touch Leads to Meaningful Change

In one intervention trial that was part of his Ph.D. dissertation, Paunesku worked with colleagues to enlist 1,594 students at 13 U.S. high schools, including 519 under-performing teens with the lowest GPAs. In spring semester 2012, the kids all logged online for a 30-minute, no-frills slideshow presentation (which they were only told was part of a general study of how and why students learn).

Half the group watched a lesson explaining the basic anatomy of the brain, but the other half received a growth-mindset “treatment”: They read an article that described scientific research findings about the brain’s malleability and explained that, just as people can get stronger by working out their muscles, anyone who works out their brain through learning can get smarter. The presentation also noted it could be helpful to try different studying strategies. Then, the teens were asked to summarize what they’d learned by composing a note of advice to a hypothetical struggling student.

For example, as one student wrote, “The more you practice or study the more you learn. Your brain has neurons inside that grow whenever you learn something new. Even though you may struggle in a certain subject the neurons in your brain are making new connections and your brain is getting stronger and smarter. … Struggling in school is absolutely normal and we may feel and call ourselves ‘dumb’ during these times. If you practice using better ways to study and learn you will get smarter and might struggle less.”

By the end of spring term, encouraging changes were afoot, particularly in the students struggling with low GPAs: the proportion who earned satisfactory grades rose to 49 percent from 43 percent the previous semester, a relative gain of 14 percent. Students in the control condition, however, showed a slight downward slide. A 14 percent improvement might not sound like much, but it represents that many more kids who lifted themselves above poor or failing grades, Paunesku said. “Hopefully, that will put these kids on a different trajectory where they would be more likely to actually graduate high school,” he said. Students who don’t perform well early in the school year usually end up doing worse and worse and are at risk of dropping out.

Fostering other kinds of academic mindsets may help as well. The same study also tested a “sense-of-purpose” psychology intervention (in a separate 30-minute online session) designed to get the teens to link their schoolwork to a meaningful broader purpose – such as preparing for future goals that “make a positive impact on the world.” That motivational strategy was roughly as effective as the growth-mindset training, Paunesku said. (Combining the two didn’t add up to a bigger benefit.)

“The hypothesis would then be that later on, when the students take the AP classes or when they just encounter a more challenging concept or when they go off to college, that having these more adaptive academic mindsets will serve them well,” he said. To determine whether that’s true, the PERTS researchers would have to track the high schoolers’ performance over longer time-frames; for instance, they’ll be doing two-year follow-ups in some other growth-mindset studies targeting community college students. But such longitudinal work is difficult and costly.

Other not-yet-published, large-scale trials from PERTS and affiliated researchers such as University of Texas (UT) psychologist David Yeager are likewise finding modest boosts in achievement from growth-mindset messages tailored to other learners – ranging from students doing Khan Academy math problems online (who were exposed to single sentences such as, “If you make a mistake, it’s an opportunity to get smarter!” to incoming UT Austin freshmen who log into a 30-minute online intervention.

Bringing Growth Mindsets into Schools

Designing online interventions that are quick is critical for wide-scale testing and uptake, Paunesku said, because schools might be hesitant to relinquish class time for them. The PERTS growth-mindset session is much shorter than Mindset Works’ Brainology curriculum for middle students, which entails weekly lessons over 5 to 16 weeks and costs $20 per student for a group of 20 or more. Paunesku and his colleagues are now updating their no-frills interventions with a higher production quality and more engaging content. If further research confirms effectiveness and enough funding support is available, they’d like to make the materials freely accessible to schools, he said.

But Paunesku cautions that “academic mindset interventions are not magic bullets.” There may be many reasons why half of the low-performing kids who received the growth-mindset lesson still failed to earn satisfactory grades. Some may not have found the online presentation persuasive enough, he said, if they grew up repeatedly hearing “fixed” mindset attitudes – such as, “some people are just bad at math” – from parents and peers. And even if students adopt a more adaptive mindset, other obstacles may still loom: A child might have trouble focusing in class because he’s hungry or anxious about being bullied, or he may not get enough support from his parents with homework.

Effective Study Habits

The importance of learning effectively cannot be over-emphasised. People who learn effectively not only achieve great academic results, they also achieve great success in their personal and work life. It is therefore no surprise that much effort has been put into learning about how people learn and retain knowledge.

One of the methods we did much research on is ‘learning styles’. Learning styles theory proposes that each person has a preferred way of learning, and focusing on that preferred way is the most effective and efficient way of retaining knowledge. The most common learning styles theory is based on visual, auditory and kinesthetic/tactile learning. This school of thought says that people learn best when they can see the information (visual), hear the information (auditory), or when they can touch or do hands-on activities (kinesthetic/tactile).

However, research has increasingly shown that many people do not always have a dominant learning style. Learners learn best by using a blend of different learning styles. At the same time, the type of knowledge has an impact of what sort of learning style they prefer as well. In other words, we cannot just do a quiz to find our preferred learning style and base all our learning on that particular style.

What is effective and has been proven in our own lessons, is that the best results in learning comes from doing two things: a variety of learning activities that target different learning styles and providing cognitively challenging activities based on well defined learning objectives.

In other words, do not just focus on making your child complete repetitive written assignments or workbook after workbook. Instead, make them learn using a variety of different activities. These can include using videos, doing research, completing projects, playing games and other hands-on activities. All these different activities target different learning styles and will help your child in learning well.

At the same time, challenge your child cognitively by using increasingly difficult and varying types of thinking. What do we mean by difficult and varying types of thinking? There are basically a few different types of thinking. The easier ones include remember (memorising knowledge), understand (comprehending knowledge) and apply (using the knowledge). The difficult types of thinking include analyse (breaking down the knowledge to understand it), evaluate (judging the knowledge) and create (build new knowledge). As you can imagine, the more your child needs to think critically about the knowledge, the more likely he is able to learn.

Let’s use the learning of vocabulary as an example to illustrate how all these theories can be applied:

Traditionally, learning vocabulary typically involves writing down the word(s), checking the dictionary and writing down the definition. Sometimes, your child will construct a sentence. This basically makes him go through the process of remember, understand and then apply – the easy types of thinking. It also only targets the visual learning style (your child can see the word on his sheet of paper).

However, a parent can help to improve this rather boring and probably rather inefficient learning experience by using some of the strategies outlined below:

Encourage your child to think about the word and get him to illustrate the word or words. He should try to use different mediums, like writing on the glass doors, or using chalk or re-arranging magnetic letters on a whiteboard. By doing all of these, you are encouraging your child to analyse what is the meaning of the word(s) and then create a piece of art by drawing the word. At the same time, because your child is using different mediums to illustrate the word, he gets to learn it in a kinesthetic/tactile learning style as well as a visual one.

Additional activities your child can do is to get them to write lyrics or a rap about the vocabulary word(s). Your child can then insert them into their favourite song or melody and record it as a video. You can help put some images that are related to the word(s) in the video using a simple video editing tool. It might sound difficult, but it is actually not too hard, and you can actually view many examples of these type of videos on youtube. Again, this means that your child has to analyse the word(s) and create new information (the song or rap). The fact that the end result is on a video means that your child learns using the visual and auditory learning style.

Finally, you might also consider getting your child to think about how to explain the word to you in the form of a charade. This will really force your child to analyse the word(s) and think of how to express the word to you in physical manner. This definitely helps kinesthetic/tactile learners.

In summary, try to experiment with different activities to help your child learn. One reason why many students do not do well in school is because they have only been exposed to the traditional learning ways. But unfortunately, the traditional way is not the best way they learn. When we try to teach our students using alternate ways, variation of activities and cognitively challenging our students, we can see vast improvements.

Motivating People to learn

learn and learn

 

1. What’s the best way to motivate people to learn?

Generally, we are motivated by two different reasons. We either do some things for what we call extrinsic reasons. Namely, you work for forty hours a week so you can get a paycheck at the end. And you don’t really like the job much but you want the paycheck to do things with that you will enjoy. So that’s extrinsic because the reward comes after the activity from the outside.

Now, flow is a type of intrinsic motivation, that is, there you do what you’re doing primarily because you like what you’re doing. If you learn only for external, extrinsic reasons, you will probably forget it as soon as you are no longer forced to remember what you want to do. Nor will you be motivated to learn for its own sake. Whereas if you are intrinsically motivated, you’re going to keep learning as you move up and so you are in this lifelong learning mode, which would be the ideal.

2. What is “the flow experience” and what does it have to do with motivation?

The flow experience is when a person is completely involved in what he or she is doing, when the concentration is very high, when the person knows moment by moment what the next steps should be, like if you are playing tennis, you know where you want the ball to go, if you are playing a musical instrument you know what notes you want to play, every millisecond, almost. And you get feedback to what you’re doing. That is, if you’re playing music, you can hear whether what you are trying to do is coming out right or in tennis you see where the ball goes and so on. So there’s concentration, clear goals, feedback, there is the feeling that what you can do is more or less in balance with what needs to be done, that is, challenges and skills are pretty much in balance.

When these characteristics are present a person wants to do whatever made him or her feel like this, it becomes almost addictive and you’re trying to repeat that feeling and that seems to explain why people are willing to do things for no good reason — there is no money, no recognition — just because this experience is so rewarding and that’s the flow experience.

3. What kinds of school activities are most (or least) likely to promote flow?

If you think of where kids have most flow in school, it’s mostly in extracurricular activities like band, music, athletics, newspaper. In addition, if you look at academic classes, they would report flow especially when they work on team projects. That’s the most enjoyable part of school. Next comes working on your own on a project and you can go down and the lowest one [in promoting flow] is listening to a lecture and audio/visual. Anything that involves them, that has goals where they can try to achieve, solve a problem, or do something it’s going to be much more likely to produce flow.

4. Can you describe a school that has succeeded in promoting flow?

The Key Learning Community in Indianapolis is one school which have tried very self-consciously to include flow into their teaching methods and very successfully. Essentially, they do it in two different ways. One is that they have a space that is called the “Flow Room” where students can spend at least an hour a week to explore new materials and they don’t have to do anything except get involved with whatever they are interested in doing. And this is one of the favourite spaces in the school for kids.

But more importantly, every teacher, whether they teach German or music or mathematics, is aware of how important it is for the kid to experience flow while learning because that would make them want to learn more. Teachers are trying to translate their own subject matter into ways the kid can become really involved immediately and they get clear goals and feedback and they get the challenge matched to their ability. That makes everyday learning hopefully much more motivating to the child so that they will look forward to the lesson rather than be afraid or bored by it.

5. Any especially innovative practices at The Key Learning Community?

One thing that the Key School did from the beginning was to hire a video technician and a video camera and they interviewed and videotaped every child at the beginning of the school year, asking them why they wanted to go school, what they hoped to achieve at the end of that year. And for the rest of the year, whatever project the kid was involved in got on the same tape. At the end of the year, the child could have a documentary of what he wanted to accomplish and what actually did happen.

I think psychologically, it’s a very important thing because you are putting the responsibility for learning on the child. They are responsible for what they’re going to learn.

6. What lessons can be learned from the success of The Key Learning Community?

The neat thing is that the eight teachers who started the Key schools were not really special in any way. They were typical, good, public school teachers who just were so tired of battling against inefficiency of the regular schools that they banded together to start something new. They were able to pull something out that is very rare, namely, they created an environment where kids love to learn, where you walk into school and you see them laughing and happy in a way that you rarely see them in school and involved in their serious stuff, they’re doing very, very interesting projects.

So it’s possible, but you need to have that kind of focus, single-minded determination that these eight people have because otherwise, it won’t happen by itself. And throwing money at it is not necessarily going to help either, unless you give money to people who have that determination already.

7. What can parents do to help kids engage in “flow” at home?

What the parents can do is: first, support; second, challenge. Almost all kids who are in flow frequently have parents who have very high expectations of them and they trust that their kids can do that. And they give them the opportunities. For instance, we find that kids who are in flow often at home, have a place where they feel private, where they can be by themselves. And at first we thought, “Oh, well the rich kids have that.” No. Rich kids have no more chance to have privacy than poor kids. It’s not having a big place, it’s just having a place where you feel, “Okay, here I can do what I want to do.” It may be a basement, a corner of the basement, whatever.

Having a TV in a kid’s bedroom is one of the worst things because then they end up taking the easy way and when they’re bored they turn on the TV, etcetera.

8. What do you see as the major challenge for public education?

You see in the past, you learned to become a hunter or a farmer, which is what all our ancestors for millions of years were. They learned by doing in a real setting, where they felt that, “Hey, what I do is important.” I mean, you take an Inuit kid of two years old, they get a bow and arrow and they shoot birds — sitting birds at first. But then they end up shooting seals and polar bears, but it’s a kind of graduated involvement with real life and we haven’t found how to do that.

It’s not surprising in a way because, I mean, how you get the kid to understand what a financial investment advisor does or a rocket engineer. It’s really difficult to gradually introduce them. So we find abstract ways of doing it by reading about the principles of physics or finance or whatever. But that’s so boring to most kids that they don’t feel they are doing real stuff. And so the question of how to get kids involved in their own learning and their own development early enough instead of trying to do it this kind of abstract way seems to be the major challenge.

Rote Learning VS Situational Learning

Learning can be done in many ways. At home, many of our young children learn by circumstance, they learn from the mistakes they make and the way people around them which include adults and other children handled various situations happening around them. These outside classroom learning is sometimes called ‘Situational Learning’ where no books or formal records are referred and people learn via the circumstance and outcome of each event that happened around them.

When children undergo formal education in schools, a larger portion of their learning will be conducted through recorded materials printed in textbooks. These books are then used as a point of reference for them when the teachers in schools need to assess how well the learning goes down with their students. If the classroom learning is not done in an active manner, these students are likely to turn to ‘Rote Learning’ from their textbooks and teachers’ notes in order to pass their school assessments and examinations.

In my opinion, the main difference between ‘Rote Learning’ and ‘Situational Learning’ is the level of participation and spontaneity of the learners in the learning process. With active participation in the process, the learner is made to think, analyse and grasp the ”concept” of the learning and apply it to other similar situations in future. ‘Rote Learning’, on the other hand, often does not involve active participation as the student may well just commit the knowledge to memory and regurgitate it out during their examinations. In other words, critical thinking may not be employed in ‘Rote Learning’.

As such, I felt that ‘hands-on learning’ is a more effective way of learning and such learning avenues are often found in ‘Situational Learning’. Although it is inevitable to avoid ‘Rote Learning’ entirely in a formal education system, a good mix of  ‘Rote Learning’ and ‘Situational Learning’ would be ideal for our youngsters to maximise the benefits of their learning.

However, to me, unconscious learning through casual reading of books and materials that are of interest to us is by far the best way to learn. It is not only spontaneous but also voluntary which enables the learner to enjoy every minute of it with no stress as learning has combined with leisure and becomes part of a recreational activity done in an informal way.

Hence, it is very important to inculcate the spirit of learning in our young so that it can become a natural activity and happen at anytime, anywhere and under any circumstances. In short, make learning a way of life for our youngsters and they would have no worries in catching up with society and advancements in human civilisation or globalisation in the many years ahead of their lives!