Thursday, November 22, 2007

Lightening the cognitive load... A phrase from Susan Goldin-Meadow and Susan Wagner Cook. (see chart below) You might wonder what it means. Use of particular gestures reveals certainty of knowledge and the learner's certainty of the spoken concept. They allow the speaker to put aside those issues that have been previously resolved and move on to unexplored conceptual territory. Actually, the act of doing something of certainty in response to learning is an automatic lightening of load. Take this blog, for instance. When I have written something down and shared it with my readers, it is no longer a cognitive burden, but is recorded and forms the foundation for subsequent exploration. It is what happens when learning leads to responsive action...

In schools, the materials learned are rarely put to practical use. The absorption of materials is measured and monitored in the taking of tests and the writing of papers, but the materials themselves are left untested in direct comparison to fundamental reality. Once the test is taken and the paper is complete, the materials are no longer required, are often forgotten and fail to form the necessary platform for future exploration and growth. So, what can we do about it? Put children to work on real things that have significance in their lives and the lives of their community and family. You will find the hands lifting the cognitive burden, refreshing the thoughts and lifting the spirits.

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