Learning part 1: What is learning?

Tivan George, news writer

Humans are one of the most adaptable species to exist, due to their ability to learn and apply what they learned or innately knew to new situations in order to survive. Being taught, having expectations to learn, and having expectations to apply that knowledge is something all students can relate to. To learn better, you first need to fully know what learning is.

Learning can be associated with many things, but according to Dr. Ryan Dellos, learning, in general, is actually just an experience, if you live through the experience, certain things will stick. This means that the more experiences you have, the more you learn.

This would mean people who move around a lot, like Third Culture Kids (TCKs ), “have an actual advantage over their monocultural counterpart because they have so many different types of experiences and also many cultures.”

Dellos continued, people that study or have studied in curriculums such as the “IB have an advantage of learning more since the curriculum takes a global standpoint.” However, there is also a biological component to learning.

As you learn, cells in your brain called neurons, store that information and create a path called the axon. When you learn something for the first time, the connection of the axon will be very weak and the transfer of information will be slow and inaccurate. However, when you repetitively use that piece of information or that certain skill, the transfer of information will be faster and more accurate. That is why the phrase “practice makes perfect” actually makes sense.

When you solve a math problem, you have to use different methods so that you know how to solve it correctly. However, if you keep solving the same questions incorrectly, every time you solve that type of problem you will have a high chance of getting it wrong because your brain remembers the wrong way solve it.

However, there are also certain situations you do not need to repeat in order to remember what happened the first time. When you get bitten by a snake and it hurts a lot, you don’t need to get bitten multiple times in order for you to remember that it hurts.

Another important concept to note is your emotional connection and perspective towards learning. Ms. Alex Park, a psychology teacher, said that “The more positive you are the better you will learn,” and “the more emotionally attached you are to a piece of information, the better you will remember it.”

There are also many ways you can use your learning. When you learn a basic piece of information, such as how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide numbers, you can later apply it to different situations that might ask things you might not have necessarily learned yet.

An example could be problems in a test, such as using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to find x.

You could also use a piece of knowledge from one subject and apply it to a different subject. When you write a lab report for science class, you certainly need to use skills and knowledge obtained from english class, and when you solve an equation in physics, you will need skills and knowledge gained from math class.

Once you master the basics, you will then be able to manipulate the basics in any way that will solve the problem.

Editor’s Note:
Scientific American, a scientific journal was referenced in this article due to its nature of exploring the process of learning.