Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Learning by Doing

Any mention of the famous phrase " Learning by Doing" brings to mind John Dewey as its creator, but the term owes its origin to the moral philosophies of ancient times , and can be traced back to books like " Geeta" , and also to the philosophy of action as found in Budhism.
 Geeta tells us about a good action as roughly the one that is its own reward. This means that the reward of a good action does not lie outside the action, and the doer of an action reaps the reward as he or she performs the action. An example is the feeding a child by a mother. A mother feels satisfaction in the very act of feeding her child and does not want an external reward for her action. In Buddhist thought a good action is its own reward, which comes to the doer in the form of internal satisfaction , then and there .

 In fact this term " learning by Doing", like many other great philosophical ideas is a mathematical equation. Philosophical ideas are usually amazingly mathematical.So it is an equation between what one " does" and what one "reaps." If learning is also included in the reward list of an action , then one learns what one does. So if a student listens to a lecture and processes it in the mind and transforms it into ideas , the student learns to develop ideas through processing in mind what he or she listens to.

Similarly if a student sleeps during a lecture and pretends that he or she is actually understanding everything, the student only learns what he or she does. The learning is of sleeping in the class while pretending that one is carefully listening to what is being said.

In Aristotelian philosophy learning by doing is used as the only available strategy to teach virtue to the children. Virtue can only be learned through performing , through doing. Courage can only be learned through acting courageously, honesty, generosity, sociability, magnanimity , temperance and other Aristotelian virtues can only be learned through practicing the virtues.

However, in modern times Dewey identified learning by doing as the sole strategy for any kind of learning. He identified education as a kind of experience, and through saying this he actually means the same equation between what one actually does and the resultant learning. So if a student learns how to listen and take notes from a lecture, he or she only learns how to listen and taking notes. If afterwards the student memorizes the lesson notes, the student learns how to memorize things.

Dewey introduced his problem solving method as a strategy to teach pragmatic approach towards life problems. In problem solving method , a student through adopting a procedure solves problems . Thus, according to the equation between what one does and so one one learns, one learns how to solve problems.


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