Learning Unfolds in Opportunities for Engagement in Practice
What kind of environment provides a proper context for learning to take place? This question is often asked by educators and parents. Let’s try to answer this question in a practical way so it can benefit students and satisfy parents’ and teachers’ expectations. In regards to the environment, the best approach is to minimize distractions while a student is working on school assignments. It is important that students take breaks, get fresh air, exercise, and have nutritious meals. Lave and Wegner (1991) saw learning from non-traditional lenses, instead of asking what kinds of cognitive processes and conceptual structures are involved in learning, they ask what kinds of social engagements provide the proper context for learning to take place.
Learning is not merely situated in practice – as if it were some independently reifiable process that just happened to be located somewhere; learning is an integral part of generative social practice in the lived-in world(Lave & Wegner, 1991). The conception of situated learning intent to conventional notions of “learning by doing.” A great example of situated learning is described in the Bible, “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 1:19). Children learn by example, so for the parents, being a good role model is critical since this helps to instill in them practical skills.
Next, for effective learning to take place, full participation from a student is necessary. Learning occurs in the mind, where it depends on the individual’s ability to acquire and master knowledge (Lave & Wegner, 1991). There are three senses that play essential roles in learning: sight (visual), hearing (auditory), and touch (kinesthetic). To maximize learning, all three senses should be involved in storing, remembering, and recalling information.
- For visual memory to take place, pictures, short video clips, and instructions are necessary (for this, EA students’ instructions are pre-recorded in Livebinder).
- The auditory memory takes place when a student is reading out loud or listening to the lesson being read.
- The kinesthetic memory involves notetaking or typing the writing assignments.
Learning involves the whole person. It implies not only a relation to specific activities, but a relation to social interactions to become a full participant and so master new understandings (Lave and Wagner, 1991). It is common knowledge that questions stimulate brain activities and therefore assists with understanding. Here are some examples of open-ended questions that require thinking:
- What made you laugh?
- What was the most important thing you learned today?
- How I can help you?
- Rate your day on a scale from 1–10 and tell me why you chose that number?
- If you could change one thing about your day, what would it be?
Samples of close-ended questions that stimulate ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses:
- Have you already completed your schoolwork?
- Is math your favorite subject?
- Did you like your lunch?
Engaging students in learning is the next skill needed to acquire when working with children. “Learning unfolds in opportunities for engagement in practice” (Lave and Wegner, 1991). This requires creativity on the parent’s side for planning extracurricular activities. This works very well in particular with elementary students since parents may take them to historical museums to study history lessons, provide field experiences for geography, do science experiments, work on learning math skills while preparing dinner, etc.
The opportunities for engagement in practice are endless as long as parents are willing to go the extra mile and make learning for their child personal and memorable.
Bible. Retrieved from https://www.biblegateway.com/
Lave J. & Wegner, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.