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Education General Learning

Educational Freedom – Myth or Reality?

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Say, you want to be a musician. Would you rather spend your time learning calculus or mastering your instrument? Learners often don’t have an option between the two and have to balance between the two. Educational freedom changes the ball game by giving you options.

Understanding Educational Freedom

Educational freedom is the right to make educational choices without the State’s interference. It involves parents and children being able to choose their education based on their views as well as perceptions. With 155 of 195 countries recognizing the right to basic education legally, it is becoming something of a globally accepted concept.

However, educational freedom involves a little more than just access to education. Educational freedom means that faculty have more accountability, and students get to explore their views without being influenced by the perspective of the faculty or institution. It also means that there isn’t much direct interference from the government or any other external facilities.

Educational Freedom vs Right to Education

Although easy to confuse, there is quite a difference between ‘Right to Education’ and ‘Educational Freedom’. While the former is more of recognizing education as a necessary service, the latter focuses more on what the term education constitutes.

Most education systems take on a one-size-fits-all approach. The issue with this is there are different types of learners and learning styles. Having a standardized approach, therefore, can be a hassle than it is useful. These systems don’t necessarily encourage questioning in classrooms. Instead, they try to motivate students towards increasing academic scores.

The assumption that all children must be interested to learn all courses offered is another issue with mandatory imposition of specific syllabi. It is important for younger minds to be exposed to wider subjects to explore their interests. Moreover, this approach may not be productive for slightly older learners. Imposing subjects that learners are not keen towards could potentially undermine their actual interests and bore them.

Therefore, it is safe to say that education is in dire need of liberation.

Benefits and Components

Freedom of education involves classes that aren’t mandatory. There are no compulsions on mandatory subjects or levels of attendance. Instead, parents understand their natural inclination and support them. Education has more impact when children aren’t learning something specific out of parental pressure.

The benefits of academic freedom extend beyond just for the professors, students, and institutions. The society also benefits from broader perspectives and improved innovations. It cultivates creative thinking and helps students to express views that they may disagree with. Faculty get to pick which teaching methods they find most effective. In turn, students are able to understand in order to draw their own conclusions 

Current Scenario of Educational Freedom

Global Public Policy Institute index on educational freedom
Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi)

This Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) index shows countries in North America, Armenia, and so on, seeing a higher educational freedom index. On the other hand, China and the UAE rank lower in the educational freedom index. The index clearly shows the need for more freedom in education across the world.

Conclusion

Human beings are quite similar anatomically. However, when it comes to learning capabilities, the differences are apparent. As such, we need an education system that can cater to different learners and learning styles. Educational freedom plays an important role here. The more freedom of choice learners have, the better they can design their future. So, a musician need not learn string theory and can focus on music theory.

Additional resources: 

https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2010/12/21/defining-academic-freedom

https://www.google.co.in/books/edition/Educational_Freedom_in_Eastern_Europe/hj2SNOyH9QIC?hl=en&gbpv=0

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Develpoment Learning

Emotions and Their Power: Do We Need Positivity?

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What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Ever heard someone say this for you to go, “What nonsense are you spewing?” Well, now is it total crap? Technically, not so much. 

Many psychological studies on emotions seem to emphasize this, albeit in a more scientific way (which most of us can’t understand). Psychologists often avoided studying emotions as they are hard to quantify or measure. Even when they eventually started studying them, their focus was on the negative emotions and in figuring out ways to treat them or reduce harm from these emotions (obviously, since they are almost constant in life).

via GIPHY

Martin Seligman, a well-known psychologist in the field of Positive Psychology, is the one who shed some light on how positive emotions shape human lives. Many others followed him and turned to these positive emotions in hopes of making lives better for us (I wonder if that is even possible at this point). 

Why not positive emotions, to begin with? 

Why did psychologists see negative emotions to be of much importance? Well, negative emotions prepare us for a particular set or range of actions. Let’s say you are scared of clowns. One day, you spot a clown at a circus or a birthday party. What would your immediate response be? You will look for safety—be it through fight or flight. 

Why do we need these actions? To survive— giving birth to offspring and generating generations upon generations is the only thing humans truly strive for (which is again debatable to an extent, or is it?). If you stand in front of an elephant that is running wild without acting in a fight or flight mode, you would, of course, be trampled to death. In short, negative emotions keep you alive. 

via GIPHY

Then what are positive emotions for? Do we even need them? 

I would say, not really; we don’t need them. We can have them if we want to (as ironic as it sounds)—“Be positive, be positive” might be a great mantra to tell yourself to feel positive. This Learned Optimism reduces stress levels and improves cardiovascular health, says Martin Seligman in his research on Authentic Happiness. However, is it good to be positive all the time? No. Sometimes it is dangerous to be positive. 

Let’s say you are facing a hungry lion. You are such a positive person that you think the lion would just walk away because you are not trying to harm it. Any animal would only harm us when it sees us as a danger, right? Well, guess what? The lion just pounced on you and tore you into pieces till it satiated its hunger. Damn, now you are not alive to feel positive anymore. Meaning, being positive tend to get you killed.

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Does this mean we should only cultivate negative emotions? 

Do we eliminate our association with positive emotions? Apparently not. Barbara Frederickson, another well-known positive psychologist, puts forth the theory of Broaden and Build of Positive Emotions for this exact reason. This theory stresses that we need both types of emotions in dealing with life. 

As much as negative emotions are necessary for survival and immediate response, positive emotions give you a broader perspective or a big picture. Negative emotions let you choose between a limited number of options, while positive emotions let you find creative ways of tackling a situation. Therefore, positive emotions act as a way of building resources to cope with our negative feels. 

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How positivity aids the learning process?

Yes, I ranted about all of that to talk about learning. The play of emotions (negative and positive) is big in learning outcomes. Don’t believe me? Let me convince you. 

Have you ever wondered why learners often avoid studying a subject they don’t like? Or why don’t they seem to grasp the matter even when they give extra time to that particular subject? Well, it has to do with the fact that our brain is wired to invest its energy in things it likes. 

via GIPHY

Not liking a subject is linked to negative emotions, and as we have already discussed, we tend to either fight it or run away from it. We can reduce this kind of avoidance in learners by cultivating positive thoughts towards the subject learners dislike. Interpreting the subject differently and linking it with things the learners like is an effective way to push them towards that subject, little by little. 

Conclusion

To conclude, be negative to stay alive. However, if you want to extend your lifespan and the quality of your life, you better adopt some methods of positive intervention. 

(I feel this blog has become a rant at this point, but here it is anyway. Stop controlling others’ emotions. Let them decide what to feel and express when. Agree?) 

via GIPHY

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Education General Learning

Learning Through Questions- The ‘Ws and H’ That Assist you in Learning

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What, Why, When, Which, and How—these words shape questions that foster thinking in our minds. The students need questions to indulge their brains in high-order thinking and enforce evaluation of the curriculum through their own skills. The age-old pattern of classroom learning has, since then, seen modifications in a lot of ways, though the practice of questions has maintained its consistency.

Asking questions is most efficient if it’s a two-way process. As such students should cater to their curiosity through questions and teachers must inculcate asking questions in their method of teaching and communicating with students. This enables better engagement in classrooms and helps understand the level of understanding each student has gained in what is being taught.

Want to know more about why asking questions in a classroom is important? Read Here

It is important to know what to ask and when to ask it. This assists the entire process of learning and aids a better understanding in the long run. We can classify questions into types based on characteristics and the kind of answers they receive. Analyzing these categories of questions is extremely important. It promotes reasoning, problem-solving, evaluation, and the formulation of hypotheses.

 Asking Open-Ended and Closed-Ended Questions

These two kinds of questions are the most basic types of questioning that follow a classroom session. close-ended questions are extremely objective in nature, while a direct question is asked with the purpose of gaining a direct answer. This questioning is done by both students and teachers, with the goal of evaluating the level of understanding on both ends. These are fairly easy to tackle. Although they do not compel students to think hard and provide opinions or analyse a topic, they are extremely useful.

On the other hand, open-ended ones are extremely subjective. They require thinking, processing, evaluating, and analyzing. They majorly assist the teachers to inculcate deeper learning in students by helping them create their own perspectives.

Students use open-ended questions to their teachers, which not only fosters their ability to compartmentalize what is being taught to them but also shows fruitful and active involvement. ‘Why do you think this happened?’ or ‘What are your opinions on this issue?’ or ‘How would this issue have affected the other?’. These kinds of questions usually have more than one correct answer and therefore, foster creative thinking—a major factor of growth in young minds.

Metacognitive Questions by Teachers

 Metacognition in simple words is thinking about one’s own thinking. For students, metacognition is a practice that fosters them to evaluate their own perceptions, answers, and opinions. A teacher can enforce Meta Thinking in the classroom.

Simple questions, placed strategically within the lecture duration, can enforce excellent metacognition in students and stay with them for their life. These questions can hinder or enhance creative thinking, given the context a teacher uses them.

Consider these two questions: ‘Which of these makes more sense?’ versus ‘which of these makes more sense according to you?’ The structuring of the question is similar in both. But, the first question suggests a cognition in students that implies that the teacher has already chalked out the correct answer. If you can point out the correct one, you’re smart, and if you fail to do so, you’re not.

The second question, however, centers around fostering creative thinking in students. It compels students to internalize all possible answers and evaluate them on their own. Metacognitive questioning doesn’t pressurize the students into thinking there’s a right answer they need to figure out. It simply evokes curiosity so that they grind their minds using all the opinions and perceptions that they build while retaining.

If a student has difficulty answering metacognitive questions, it is a clear indication that the problem doesn’t lie in their inability to retain knowledge. It is confidence and self-efficacy that they lack. The teacher then focuses on these problems instead of casting off the child as slow learners.

Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy

Low and high-order division of questions influences the Taxonomy theory heavily. However, this classification brings only cognition into focus. These two cognitive categories include lower order ( for memory, rote, and simple recall) and higher-order ( for more demanding and exacting thinking).

Taxonomy, however, expanded itself into not one but three domains, one of them being cognition. The other two domains are psychomotor and affective, all three of which overlap with each other. These three domains are co-dependent on each other, with the most basic level being cognition.

Taxonomy assists teachers in dividing the difficulty level of questions to ask the students. It is a method for students to not only self-evaluate but also develop understanding from a basic level before moving higher up.

Taxonomy states six steps for clearing concepts, each step having its own sets of questions. Once students resolve these questions, they can move forward to the next. Each step assists in answering the next one. Hence, by the end, students are able to fully grasp the topic.

Conclusion

These methodologies, at their core, inculcate intelligent questioning in classrooms. Questions tend to boost the level of retention in a class. It also increases student engagement and is the best way to facilitate understanding and grasping the nuances of a topic. Asking questions has been proven to be profoundly fruitful by generations of theorists and educational psychologists. It will continue being essential till classrooms are facilitated by the two-way interaction system, amongst the teacher and students.

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Education Learning

Different Types of Learners and How to Teach them Effectively

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Learning is an important experience for people of all ages, but is effective only when done right. There are different types of learners; each with a specific way of learning. Research shows that there are many ways to remember and process information. We all experience the world in our own way, and this is how we learn better.

Students with disabilities are taught in a different way. We follow this to ensure they learn effective. A similar approach is needed for each student out there, as their learning style may not be the same as another student. Understanding these different types of learning will have a huge impact on how teachers manage students, create group projects, and personalize one-on-one courses.

Without understanding and recognizing these different learning styles, teachers could end up leaving a handful of students lagging behind their classmates, partly because their unique learning styles are not involved. Learning styles and preferences come in different forms, and not everyone belongs to the same category.

In a previous article, we covered different learning styles. Continuing the discussion forward, in this article, we will discuss different types of learners and how to teach them effectively.

Visual (Spatial) Learner

Visual learners retain information more effectively by using visual aids such as pictures, movie clips, colors, charts, and diagrams. They also have a good understanding of visual data presented in maps, charts, and graphs. Students who learn by sight understand information better when it is presented visually. These are your doodling students, list makers, and note-takers.

Visual teaching methods for learners

  • Get students to visualize using phrases, such as, “Imagine,” “Let’s see what you would do.”
  • Avoid large blocks of text.
  • Use storytelling for visualization
  • Color or highlight the important points in the text.
  • Color-code and organize all the materials you provide as this helps organize things in their minds.

Tactile(kinesthetic) Learner

The kinesthetic learner learns through movement. Learning exercises and role-playing are very helpful. They enjoy engaging in acting out events or touching and manipulating with their hands to understand concepts. These types of learners may find it difficult to sit still. They are usually good at sports or like dancing and may need to take more frequent breaks while studying.

Methods for teaching Tactile Learner

  • Let them interact with physical objects or solve puzzles.
  • Provide real-world examples, such as case studies.
  • Invite them to teach some of the content of the lesson to other members of the class.
  • Standing and walking exercises are very effective.
  • Use physical exercises and provide hands-on experiences.

Verbal (linguistic) Learner

Verbal learner prefers to use words and language skills when speaking and writing, such as, reading, writing, listening, or speaking. They like word games, puns, and rhymes, etc, and are usually powerful speakers.

Methods for teaching verbal learners

  • Invite them to discuss or demonstrate.
  • Include quizzes in your classroom.
  • Utilize role-playing games, such as interactions between employees and customers.
  • Suggest that they re-read and rewrite their notes, including summaries.
  • Use of written and oral teaching activities.

Aural (auditory) Learner

Aural learners have to hear something to process it. They prefer to read aloud when presented with written material and enjoy lecture format learning. These types of learners respond to sounds, music, recordings, rhymes, rhythms, etc. They can remember conversations well, and music triggers an emotional response in them.

Methods for teaching aural learners

  • Let students work in pairs to explain concepts to each other.
  • Use mnemonic devices and rhymes.
  • If reading is required, suggest audiobooks.
  • When explaining a story, play relevant sounds on your computer.
  • Initiate group discussions so that their auditory and verbal processors can properly take in and understand the information presented.

Logical (mathematical) Learners

Logical or mathematical learners use logic and structures to learn effectively. If you’re good at numbers and statistics, you are most likely a logical learner. Logical Learners are particularly good at analyzing cause-effect relationships.

Methods for teaching logical learners

  • Add critical thinking exercises.
  • Provide statistics and facts.
  • After presenting evidence, ask them to draw a conclusion.
  • Provide the class with problem-solving tasks.
  • Challenge them to work things out for themselves.

Summing Up

To summarize, there is no wrong learning method or superior type of learner—each type has specific pros and cons. All styles reflect personal strengths and can help a person remember information more effectively. Although it may seem strange to others, you need to use your strengths by trying to learn new information, to truly capture it. Embrace all types of learning. By switching the teaching method, you can keep students’ attention longer and make the learning process more enjoyable.

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Education Learning

Don’t Break the Chain: Doorway to a Productive You

Don’t Break the Chain is a productivity strategy popularized by the renowned comedian Jerry Seinfield.

The productivity technique requires you to commit to achieving a daily objective over a long period of time. You have to cross off each day that you achieve your daily objective on a calendar. Eventually, you’ll create a chain of Xs that spans weeks or months and gradually form a long-term habit that will last forever.

Every “X” on your calendar signifies a step closer to your objective. For example, every night, your schedule to study ensures your academic achievement in the future.

The tiny things that you do every day help you move closer to your big goal. Success stories may appear to be instant achievements, but most people fail to notice all of the small details that contributed to the great win. The greatest approach to work on your big goal every day is to make it a habit.

Most students find it pretty difficult especially when dealing with daily procrastination. However, the “Don’t break the chain” technique is an excellent solution to this problem. It’s a basic technique and all you need is just a paper calendar and a pen. Even though you don’t need a lot of prep for this trick, it is a really powerful approach for forming healthy habits.

How “Don’t break the chain” is beneficial for students?

Don’t break the chain helps you concentrate on the present moment. It emphasizes performing your daily habits rather than requiring you to think about the next day or the year after today. Instead, you only need to extend your streak of “Xs” by one day.

This approach focuses on the current action that you have full control over, rather than a long-term objective with multiple variables at play. So, you get short-term rewards for habits that pay off in long run.  For example, read two pages every day to build a long-term habit of reading.

 Don’t break the chain helps you gain the benefits of compounding. You have to complete the daily task and add an “x” to the calendar. Eventually, you’ll discover that your efforts compound as you continue to prolong your streak.

Getting Started with “Don’t Break the Chain”

It’s really easy to get started with your chain. You just need a paper calendar, and you’re all set to go. Here are the fundamentals:

Set your goal

Goal setting is the foremost process, where you have to think about your ideal future and drive yourself to make it a reality. Setting objectives allows you to decide where you want to go in life. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve allows you to focus your efforts in the right places.

While setting this goal, be realistic. The key is setting SMART goals; goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. For example, there’s no point in setting a goal to read 10 books a month if you’ve never even read one. First, determine your big goal or long-term goal and break them into smaller, more manageable goals. Write it down on your calendar why you want to do this task every day.

Set boundaries

Taking breaks is utterly important—whether you are sick or cannot get out of your bed, or you really want to go on a vacation— take a break is fine! Don’t be too hard on yourself. Taking breaks for your mental well-being as well as physical health is important in order to be able to continue along your chain.

Adam Dachis suggests adding an “S” in the calendar for sick and “V” for vacations. Set your specific boundaries and do not cheat. If you take a day off for reasons that fall outside your boundaries, start afresh.

Reward Yourself

When people know there will be a reward at the end of the road, they are more likely to succeed. This is especially true when it comes to forming new habits. The streak of “Xs” in your calendar is increasingly rewarding.

However, if you don’t feel satisfied, start rewarding yourself on every milestone to stay motivated. Just be careful while picking your rewards. Pick something that you will be looking forward to, meanwhile don’t pick something that somehow undoes all of the hard work you’ve put in over the year.

Picking up the tool

The technique originally includes large monthly calendars printed and stuck on the wall. However, if you want to go for a smaller and more convenient option, you can choose a diary or a single sheet calendar. You can also choose to go digital. However, we personally do not recommend that as it can be quite distracting. That said, the technique is all about finding what works best for you.

Summing Up

The “Don’t Break the Chain” productivity approach is an extremely effective tool for creating goals and forming new habits. However, if you’re starting for the first time, start with one activity and do it for at least 10 minutes a day. You can always push your limits as you improve over time.

Remember: No matter how big your goal is, you will ultimately succeed if you take a small step towards your goal every day.