- Teaching and learning are opposite sides of the same coin because each participant
in the education process needs to be keenly aware of the other's
challenges and duties. For sure, all teachers were once learners, but many have
forgotten what it was like or they may not be in touch with today's difficulties, which
are definitely different from those not many years ago.
- These days it seems everything must be done differently, with much more pzazz and a bigger show,
substance still matters but is not sufficient.
Technology has driven these changes.
- Another highly noticable change is that no one reads anything anymore,
I mean, we all prefer short bullet point lists and summaries that are not taxing. It is due to information
overload for sure. Teachers and professors face nowadays a tough work life where there is not enough time to
properly teach. It stems from having too many ancillary duties that take priority. I have found that by
being too responsive in committee and service, etc., one ends up putting highest priority to everything
trivial and lowest to research and teaching. Academia is a difficult environment to live with, it constantly
demands on the faculty with new deadlines and tasks sneaking in on top of already committed ones. We often
just attempt to do it all. This is a mistake. We need to make clear priorities for our use of time and
stick to them. When some new task enters with a deadline the answer should be no, that is a choice we often
fail to make. If you agree to take the task on, make sure it fits within your already prioritized set of projects
- After a professor or student takes time to put his/her ducks in a row as far as priorities, near-term planning,
and project management, then the question turns to the nature of how to teach and learn....
- The two sides of teaching and learning are indeed
complementary, since the best teacher every time approaches the job as if he/she were learning it all anew,
while the most successful learners actually teach themselves. Both parties need to understand
the whole process to avoid that amazingly stupid version of education that today's system sometimes
encourages, whereby the information is efficiently transferred from the professor's `notes' to the
- No one learns by only watching others. A teacher must set
conditions of practice with variety and well chosen examples, and
discuss the ideas in context with development of the intuition. A student must
realize that he/she is really teaching himself/herself, that the teacher is only a facilitator.
Thus, active and serious effort from the studentis always needed.
- "Skill to do comes of doing" - R. W. Emerson
- "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." - Confucius
- People these days have no patience to listen to long
explanations or read long
paragraphs. Therefore, writing in a handout or on the board should be
bullet-point style accompanied by sufficient repetition of the important items.
The teacher should give different views of the same thing if possible. Consider this common
experience, that one does not start a new thing by reading a technical manual completely through, but rather one
attempts to use it first to become familiar with it. Then when the need arises we look back
at the instruction manual.
Why, then, do some think students attempt to learn mathematics by reading the
whole theory first? Have students start immediately to work on problems before they are
technically ready, and give the explanations as you go.
- Related to the above, do not study "linearly," straight
through the book. Any such order is artificial and designed for convenience of the presenter, not the
learner. Learn "non-linearly," skip things here and there to come back to them later. Learn the easier
parts of later topics occasionally before the hard version of the earlier topics. Look at the
book before hearing the lecture, etc.
- Students and teachers both: Anything important must be written down.
The handwriting and organization process is intrinsically important, so take time and effort to write neatly and
make a plan for a well-organized presentation and with good classroom management (including usage of time).
Students: re-copy lecture notes to perfection, or
re-write what is in the text book. Take the time! It will pay off later.
This creates an active connection to the material as
well as sets out a sequential aspect that is not part of ordinary reading. Try to recreate a sequential
appreciation for the item in from of you, do not make the mistake of trying to take in a snapshot of the
whole page of logical progression.
Board work must be excellent. Simply, no excuse instructors!!!! Use multiple colors, alternate colors are good for
adding comments later or emphasizing connections, etc. Write down everything that is important, begin each
class with an outline of what is to be done that day. Yet keep it simple. Don't over-explain, don't reproduce the text.
- Everyone should always have a VISION, goals, a direction and a PLAN for everything they do
that is significant. The vision is far out. Maybe years ahead. The goals can be seen but are challenging to reach. The direction
is your vector for where to go now and in the near future. The plan is how you will keep moving effectively.
Most people apporach life rather randomly, and receive life's random response.
lecturing, be sure to make the plan of the presentation very, very clear right
away. Give an overview at the beginning, and repeat yourself frequently.
Be sure to give short explanations with a lot of variety (color, tone, cadence, etc.),
using bullet-point style.
Keep it as simple as possible, but no simpler (cf. A. Einstein),
leaving complications to the exercises or for later
lectures, since most of the time a course is a first time through the
anything... at its heart is a simple idea. Communicate that idea (when teaching).
Identify that idea (when learning).
NEVER believe that there is not a simple idea underneath anything.
An important Japanese principle: Kaizen. Look it up.
enthusiastic and adapt yourself to the audience, or risk losing them. Be very
conscious to the time management plan you should have designed ahead of time.
This is one of the most difficult things, yet important.
tortoise beats the hare.
Practice and practice, be patient with yourself (isn't this often the most difficult part?), organize your time well, and do not
expect quick, easy results.
- "There is a simple but crucial rule that for any level of transformational success you must develop
the spirit of repetition and consistency. Repetition is the mother of all skill, and skill is the mother of
mastery." - B. Baptiste
- Master the art of working hard but staying relaxed. It is
very important to "try easy."
- "You can't think and hit at the same time" - Yogi Berra
- Be sure to get organized for academic success. There are many
The human brain is not a computer, but rather an associative learning system, or
neural network. That is, everything cognitive
is really an impression, an image, an emotion, an intuition. Strict "computer style" logic is an illusion.
Multi-tasking is an illusion.
Information is stored
in a distributed fashion throughout the incredible number of neurons in the brain.
Thus, we should concentrate on building our intuition and trusting our intuition. Do not over-task yourself, either, as
that is fundamentally the cause of so-called dumb mistakes. Write everything down and be very
organized in order to place less burden on your memory process.
- Summary: The principles of successful learning:
1) Study actively and be organized. Do it, don't just watch; write everything, re-copy notes and text material, reproduce
sequential aspect of new material; organize yourself (in space and time);
be neat, write down all ideas and steps in order to avoid multi-tasking.
2) Learn nonlinearly. Persevere, keep on moving with your own best order of topics.
3) Build and trust your intuition. Your brain is not a computer, use it to its full power the way it was designed.
Don't 'think' while 'hitting.'
4) Try easy, be relaxed.
- The Professor Must:
Be organized, predictable, and clear in communicating;
Emphasize fundamentals and simple ideas, and repeat these ideas;
Set up conditions to optimize the student’s chance of associative learning;
Keep the students grounded in practice while developing intuition. Emphasize working problems... learn by doing.
- The Student Must:
Be organized- especially in terms of approaching the course material, use of time, and prioritization;
Make a serious effort to listen, think, and do the exercises;
Practice actively, not passively, minimize distractions, and set conditions to optimize learning. Write everything, not waiting for theory to make total sense, but just starting the problems;
Not wait for the test to find out what they don’t know (see first point)!
- Here is the 3 word version summarizing everything I've said:
Detail, perseverance, intuition.