The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited” –Plutarch
It has been demonstrated by numerous experiments that when we are empowered with the tools for learning rather than being passive recipients, we achieve higher goals. The idea is to actively participate in the learning process. The first step in this approach is to set forth specific, meaningful goals. It is important that these be attainable in the short term. Even if we are to embark on a major learning project, taking one step at a time will allow us to fulfill one goal after another, thus keeping us motivated all the way through. At the same time, we must become aware of the disadvantages of not knowing the subject.
By following these simple steps in the learning process, we practice what has been called metacognition. As explained in a study by the National Research Council, “How people Learn”, a ‘metacognitive’ approach to instruction can help us learn to take control of our own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring our progress in achieving them.
In today’s classrooms, metacognition is being used as a means to foster motivation among students. When they are given the independence in the learning process, they become responsible learners. What happens is that by monitoring their progress, they discover those techniques that work best for them. By applying these techniques in the learning process, they achieve fast learning results.
Some of the learning techniques that work wonders for some of us may not do any good for others. This is why it is so important to search for the tools that will enhance our personal learning capability. These may include a variety of aspect, from analytical thinking to learning in a playful environment. It remains to find out what works best for each of us as individual.
By Andreina Ojeda, M.A. Modern Languages
President and Founder of Lingua Language Center at Broward College.