I have been watching many old documentaries on catch up tv on my ipad. This is a constant pleasure and all the more because I never know what’s going to pop up on screen at any one time. There is one series based around London, made between 1965 and 1991. Just odd sequences of black and white film showing all kinds of London areas. Covent Garden fruit market costa mongers, then it might jump to Borough Market or Petticoat Lane market. These social history documentaries are a truly inspiration lesson to all generations – take pictures, videos and keep records of how we live now. Learning how to read the history behind the lens is vital for all kinds of subjects. When you take up a software training package, knowing how to read properly what you see in front of you is not something we always appreciate at the time. Learning to learn is the key.
We are hearing all the time about the changes in secondary age education in the uk. There have been many changes with local education authorities being swept away with their school responsibilities replaced by government funded academies and free schools. Teaching schemes and new style methods of learning were intended to free up the beaurocracies that stifled so much of the education system – apparently preventing the free thinking and learning that is needed. What is more of a problem is the very limited curiculum that only teaches children to complete exams to a very high level, but completely misses out everything that isn’t on this very rigid proscriptive method. For a youngster to get a fully rounded education in all subjects and to enter university fully equipped for a career focused degree course, they can help themselves with online courses and more robust teaching of the missing elements.
I always find it quite a challenge to learn a new skill or task without having it demonstrated clearly, preferably by another human being, or very often these days, on video. Some folk find learning and all educational schemes in book form to be perfectly easy to follow and enjoy – the more academic amongst us I feel. I’m not sure if my seriously left handed bias, causing a lifelong lack of co-ordination and balance could have something to do with a constant struggle to get the gist when trying to read instructions and carry out the required or desired activity. For me then, the advent of e-learning and other means of online educational facilities would have been an absolute boon when I was at school – it’s too late for me to take any of the fantastic choice of career focused online courses but for younger colleagues – life is for grabbing and e-education gets you there quicker.
I’ve been happily taking interest in my neighbour’s son who seems to be a complete whizz-kid where computer games is concerned. He knows all the titles – of the ones appropriate for his age group, of course. He was born into the computer world – nothing seems odd or diffiuclt for him to attempt. In fact, he is absolutely fearless and will have a go at any game scenario etc. This is very good because it opens his eyes to all kinds of opportunities of learning in other ways. He is definitely not one for hours of copying out lesson plans, comprehensive ‘work schedules’ for each subject. He can literally log on, look at the game and know instinctively how to operate those hand gizmos and get stuck into the game without a seconds thought. To help him achieve greater academic stability, his parents have invested in several online tutoring courses so he is comfortable with all aspects of the national testing programme for his age group.
In the grand scheme of things, I am generally known as a quick learner. This however is only apt in a particular number of things. I was amazingly quick on the uptake at school on lessons where the teacher held my attention, made the lesson interesting and relevant. I can count on one hand the number that managed that but for all that, I did come away all those years ago, with a greater sense of learning in a few subjects and this has remained with me all my adult life. We did not have access to 0nline training or education. Everything was blackboard and book stuff. If the tutor bored th pants off me, perhaps delivered the material in a dry and stuffy, unhumourless manner, then they were dead in the water as far as my ability to take it in! I definitely work better now with online courses , especially the multi choice reply type!
When you get to a certain age, there is a tendency to panic at the thought of anything more challenging than learning to play scrabble or sudoko it seems. I go to healthy walking group regularly and the rest of our group is mixed but mostly over 60s – it being a weekday. I have made it a point to engage lots of the walkers in general conversation regarding their past careers, and what made them do this and that. They don’t seem to mind. I am fascinated by how each person has reached any particular pinnacle of success and how they did so. What is obvious is so many miss the discipline of going to work and the training courses they may have attended in latter years. Many of my pals have taken up a real variety of training opportunities with U3A for example – and the world is very much their oyster.
There is such a lot of talk these days about the need for further education, going to university seems to be the be all and end all of the upper school education system. Sometimes there are good reasons why not to take up a university place – maybe an apprenticeship opportunity comes along – that offers first class on the job training and a small paypacket. After the 5 or 7 years, the candidate becomes a proud and fully trained motor mechanic, plumber or other vital trade.
As with all of life’s conundrums, careful thought has to be given to the benefits that might come from a specific career focused degree course. For example, nursing – at one time a student nurse did training in the nursing school, then weeks on the ward and then back to the school for finals. They were paid as working student nurses. All these career based courses rely on continual top up training, usually online to keep development going.
My mother belongs to the biggest womens’ group you can imagine. It’s well known throughout this country and probably the world and if it’s good enough for our monarch and her mother, then it’s certainly good enough for us. There are so many different facets to this huge federation. Mum has met an incredible range of folk and the speakers that come to entertain and hopefully educate the groups have been in the main, absolutely fascinating and interesting. There have been one or two who could brush up on their delivery style, but generally the speakers are only paid a tiny amount for their expenses and are not really in the ‘after dinner speaker’ class.
The federation also facilitates learning – in a very big way. They have every subject available and a ready made college for the purpose, although it’s a bit of a luxury to be residential – but probably suited to a queen!
Knowing how to learn is one of the skills in life that doesn’t necessarily come easily. I recall when at school, I would respond best to the teacher out front who was amusing, spoke nicely and understood my dry sense of humour. These things mattered for my self confidence. Others in my cohort were perfectly happy just copying everything down from the board and not questionning anything teacher said or did. Whether their learning came more easily is hard to say, but I needed more than dreary lessons.
I came alive when commercial subjects were available – I had to give up science to do typing and shorthand, but my parents figured these would stand any student in good stead throughout a lifetime of work, whereas sciences had a fairly limited appeal for normal life. The ability to type brought great advances to me, it taught me how to appreciate all future training courses, online particularly.
One of the most useful things I learned in training courses over many years as a government worker was to get on with the task as soon as the email instruction arrived. I was always in bother at school with homework for procrastination to the point that it was always done on the bus on the way to school – never a good idea. This directly affected my chances of getting useable exam results and it took me a few years at real work to appreciate my methodology was rubbish.
So thereafter I have always taken training of any sort quite seriously. Be it a first aid sampler, a customer service refresher, mandatory anti-fraud training. I have read the instructions, read the purpose of the course and each element of each topic. Once the point of the exercise is known, getting down to the learning is a doddle. And often very rewarding.