Natural Verus Unnatural Learning

Jackie Gerstein, User Generated Education, Feb 20, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

It's tempting to want to support informal learning because formal learning is unnatural. As Jackie Gerstein writes, "The unintended consequences of these artificial and unnatural ways of learning include believing that learning is or should be difficult, painful, disciplined, and not fun." There's even a nifty graphic contrasting traditional learning with summer camp. And I loved summer camp. But if you read 'Ought and Is' and recall the key points, you know we can't infer simply what what sort of learning seems 'natural' to what sort of learning we ought tom pursue. Sticking your hand in the fire is also 'natural' - goodness knows enough children have done it. No, if we want to support informal learning, it will have to be on the basis of some subjective criterion it satisfies, not the entirely arbitrary criterion of it being 'natural'.

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