Sunday, January 01, 2012


Looking back on the year just past, I can now see that the learning experiences I suffered through have made me rethink education. It is becoming more and more true that direct intervention appears to jump-start learning, but habituation is a powerful force and conditioning polishes the responses and reflexes. Learning occurs best after severe trauma, while the brain (if we thought of it as self-aware) would be desperately re-organizing its networks for optimality.

In other words, throw all the blocks into the air, and while they are falling, catch and reassemble. The people who can do this to themselves most quickly and usefully will win the education sweepstakes. If you can indeed think of several impossible things before breakfast and then have dinner at the restaurant at the end of the universe, you have indeed got it made.

Whither then assessment and evaluation? Last year, some very bright people concluded that increasingly detailed fMRI scans would allow us to decide very clearly whether someone had learnt something or not. Who knows? In a few years' time, maybe examinations for certain simple or easily-defined tasks will consist of a 30-second brain scan.

In fact, perhaps an annual medical exam would tell us what our individual rankings should be. Haha!

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