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How we learn

October 18th, 2006 by Graham Attwell

I am taking part at the moment in an on-line conference organised by the UNESCO IIEP Community of Interest in Open Educational Resources. Although I don’t really like the format of these email conferences, it is lively with a lot of cultural interchange. And I just received this wonderful post from K. C. Sabu from Bhopal, India. He or she says in one short story more than I have ever managed to say in long convoluted papers!

“Women Hand Pump Care Takers

In one of the Water and Sanitation Projects in South India, during the 90s women were to be trained to be hand pump care takers. Due to some reason the training was delayed – and the authorities distributed the tool kits to the suggested women in the remote rural areas.

Surprisingly after about 6 months when we visited the areas, we found that the women were actually functioning as Hand Pump care takers though they were not trained to be. Through trial and error they learned the ‘Engineering’ of hand pump. The factors behind the learning include access to the tools, the need – for water – and the natural determination? Learning is mostly demand driven, self organized and self paced. Opportunity and access are important factors in the process of learning.

It is very much true that the children find schooling to be boring. A more active involvement of the user – students – in specifying the content and curriculum may make a difference in this scenario. Teachers need to recognize that there cannot be any teaching if there is no learning. There is need for teachers to realise the fact that the learners are able to construct knowledge. Once this is realized, the teachers will naturally grow above their level of delivering the content, to higher levels like that of becoming partners and facilitators in the process of constructing knowledge.”

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