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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

 
[#] [3]
my hero cheeseburger brown, the author of the darth side & simon of space, has been writing again, this time a series of posts of his past enemeies, softened through the lens of time.

in his tale of the weird sisters, he writes a really great and easily overlooked description of a certain form of learning i know intuitively but could never describe:
"I sipped a drink box and read a book I largely didn't understand about neutron stars. I hoped to read another book in the future that would shed some light on the nonsense I was packing into my head (a process I called pre-stuffing and Stephan called swamping)."
swamping! what a great term! this is a form of learning i'm quite familiar with and i'm hugely pleased to find such an intuitive term for it. the other day sven came up with "mistake-based learning," a great term for something i had been advocating for academic technology users for years (but academic IT people aren't really keen on it, choosing instead to restrict them even further "for their own good" until they become stiff and dependent.)

i'm also swamped in its less educational form by artist's way promotion. (c'mon, google! why do you refuse to list the portland artist's way classes higher in the search results? why do you insist on putting me on page 10? the top 5 things you link to link to me, and everything after that has pretty much NOTHING to do with portland artist's way. argh!) we did a big sweep of nw, nw, se & gresham and i've been working my way through the list of electronic optons. if anyone has any ideas, you're welcome to offer them.

Comments:
gl,
Love the concept of "mistake-based learning." Several years ago I was setting up some a/v equipment at the Colo. Deaf & Blind School, and it didn't record what it was supposed to. I went through my checklist and realized what I'd done wrong.

A couple of weeks later, some of the teachers were having the same problem -- I was able to fix it immediately because I'd made the same mistake they had and recognized what they'd done wrong.

Don't know if that's what you meant by "mistake-based" learning, but I sure am a practitioner!
 
One other comment about "pre-stuffing" and "swamping" -- I tell my physics & astronomy undergrads to go to as many science lectures on campus as they can. They may only understand 20% of "The Quark Gluon Liquid - an Unexpected Phase of Matter", but if they keep going to the lectures, all of a sudden they will be studying something in class and they will go, "AHA! I've heard that before", and they will understand it better.

Now from time to time my seniors will come in and tell me that attending these talks early on really did help them "learn the language".
 
to me, mistake-based learning just means that you have enough power to make a mistake and enough power to correct it. i'm thinking primarily of IT and art, but your example works, too.
 
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