1 THE INVISIBLE LESSONS
history becomes more and more a race between education
have been on stage for nearly twenty years teaching audiences of
all ages and all backgrounds. Although I started as a computer design
engineer and trainer for the U.S. Army, twists of fate have led
me to the forefront of the fields of learning theory and learning
realised very early that my students' results depended more on my ability
to be flexible as a trainer than on their intellect. I wasn't educated
in traditional teachers' colleges, so I didn't know that some should succeed
and others should fail. I expected all of my students would learn - and
they did. If a student was having difficulty, I naturally looked to myself
as the source of confusion. Having expected to find the trouble there,
that's where it was found.
own experience of school was a mixture of ups and downs. I had teachers
I liked and subjects in which I performed well, and some I didn't. My
experiences seemed similar to those of my friends. We all did well enough
to sense we would be promoted at the end of the year. The problems I encountered
in school had little to do with content of my courses, but instead had
to do with school's invisible curriculum - the values, beliefs and behaviour
of my teachers and fellow students. School experiences, and the people
we meet there, play a role in determining how we will later interpret
life's experiences. I was unusual in that I did not learn these hidden
lessons well. If I had, I do not believe I would have the life I have
twenty years of studying learning in people and teaching thousands of
students about learning effectively, I believe most will benefit from
a re-evaluation of what they learned at school.
of the problems of mass education have been created and perpetuated by
centuries-old myths about learning and the brain. Recent technology has
dispelled some of the myths and helped us to construct a new image of
the human being as a learning system - but that same technology has created
new myths of its own.
1983 I made a personal commitment to understanding what could be understood
about process of learning-to find the strategies and beliefs that would
support competent, effective learning for 100 per cent of my students,
regardless of their educational history, 100 per cent of the time, in
any subject. I believe people have been educated to be forgetful about
successes and to remember well the failures. My students didn't seem to
remember or focus on the ways in which they had succeeded as learners
thousands of times over. I wanted to create strategies that made sense
based on these repeated successes.
book is based on my experience learning
how to learn
book is based on the work I do teaching people about learning. In my audience,
I may have 15-year old street kids and 40-year-old PhD students. There
may be an owner of a small business, the director of a big one, clerks,
salespeople and computer engineers, a smattering of teachers, professors
and parents. I even have my share of grandparents and retired people.
the end of a weekend seminar, they can all read more words per minute
and have better comprehension than when they arrived. They have learned
how to juggle and how to make important information memorable.
have remembered what it was like to be a learner and have discovered the
strategies for becoming an effective learner. They have laughed, sung,
moved and sighed. They learned about the myths they learned in school.
Some realise that they'd been lied to all along by parents, teachers and
peers. Many go on, with a confidence they previously didn't possess, to
achieve their goals and dreams. But this is not where they begin.