Observations on Learning

Audio-visual information from the external world is received, elaborated, and memorised in relation to the attention given to it.  
Attention is determined by persona! interest and will­ingness, likes and needs at school or work. Effectively it involves utilitarian selection resulting in a hierarchical or­der from among the stimuli of information. What happens when the receptor does not pay attention to the informa­tion, which comes from the external world because he is not interested in it?
Let us first observe learning in a context which is not educational. When somebody who loves music hears a song by chance and he does not listen to it intentionally to remember its words or notes, will he ever be able to remember them? In effect, he can remember more and more each time he comes across it, specifically: (a) the word order, that is, the word before or after another one; (b) the mind association among the words, that is, the word which recalls another word or a whole sequence of words; (c) the connection of the words with the melody.
Does it happen that somebody remembers what he does not need or want to remember at a particular moment?
It is possible that when somebody talks about A he remembers F perhaps because A recalls F in his mind. Can it happen that somebody cannot remember what he needs and wants to remember at a particular moment? It is possible that when somebody talks about A he does not remember that he may connect A with B perhaps because he has never associated A with B in his mind, so that A may recall B automatically.
Maybe he does not know that B comes after A or he knows it but he does not know how to join together A to B into AB.
Automatic links may occur among words, images and sensations in general and for example: when a historian at a conference talks about the historical figure], he may remind a spectator of the battle X because the spectator has a picture re­presenting it and the battle X may remind him of the weapons of the period Y because he has a sword that he can touch...
Let us go back to the song mentioned above: what happens when the receptor as a singer in a chorus decides to listen to it deliberately to remember it?
The time of the memorisation of the song depends on the attention given to the song itself:

Major attention implies minor time to memorise;

Minor attention implies major time to memorise.

Let us now observe learning in a context which is edu­cational. The counsellor as a teacher, during his session makes his academic speech concerning Counselling theo­ry and practice; as he is a skilful counsellor, his exposition is very communicative because it represents the teacher's action, which needs the student's reaction to build up the interaction of the process of learning.  
The student receiving audio-visual information sum­marises, schematises and takes down notes. The student, in elaborating audio-visual information, gives it the famil­iarity which allows him to learn it very well in a short time.
The student writes because in his writing, which in­volves auditory, visual and kinaesthetic skills, he translates the teacher's spoken language, or the written language of the book, into his own language.
The student translates an external information into an internal information. The external information may in­clude sound (e.g. the teacher's voice) or may include sight (e.g. the printed page). The internal information is the student's personal, original expression. The student creates the way of disclosing his own personality to the exter­nal world by using his individual language and by choos­ing lexicon, syntax, and symbols which decode the teacher's code into the student's code.
The student's code is the means by which the imple­mentation of the internalisation of external information is possible. The internalisation of information implies the translation of the unfamiliarity of audio-visual informa­tion into the familiarity of contents, handwriting and com­puter graphics.
The student, who is used to elaborating, writes a word with a similar meaning instead of another one which is difficult to remember or he reports it after asking the teacher for explanation; the skilled student understands that one concept is as the integration of another one and he puts them together by marking them with the same number or asterisk or symbol; he puts data referring to events, characters or argumentation in a connected series that he can understand.
The student becomes author of information by giving a new aspect to external information, by writing the teacher's utterance in his own way. The student becomes a source of self-information when he studies by using the new aspect that he has given to external information, that is, his elaboration.

The student, in being author and source of informa­tion, learns faster and better what he has to communicate as a learner during his scholastic career, as a worker dur­ing his professional career, and as a performer throughout his life.  

Let us consider external information that is visual information. What does the student remember better, the page of the book or the same page translated by himself into his precis? The student used to elaborating may re­member, for example, that: his lines of writing fill just the half of a page; he has written in block capitals with red ink the titles of the different topics so that he cannot mix up the topics; he has numbered the different parts for each topic to remember the different points which he has to communicate to the teacher during his oral or written task.
The student uses his notes as visual references where the graphic signs have a precise semantic value. The stu­dent's visual memory can recognise what is familiar to it such as the student's handwriting as the manifestation of his personal elaboration; visual memory cannot recognise what it is unfamiliar to it such as the types used in the printing of the student's book because they are not the manifestation of his personal elaboration.
Let us now consider external information that is auditory information.  
During the lesson, the student takes notes from the teacher's voice. What happens if the student listens to his own voice rather than to the teacher's voice? Is it possible to deduce, by observing the process of learning, that the student's auditory memory may recognise the familiarity of the student's voice as his physical sound expression, as the student's extension?
The student who is the actor and author of informa­tion seems to recall easier, when asked for reiteration, what he himself reads, says and writes, by acting as a performer able to use all of his visual, auditory and kinaesthetic skills and strategies.
The student, as the successful communicative per­former, exploits his visual potentiality when he is able to
mentally recall and to externally communi­cate what involves his hearing, such as sounds, speeches, utterances, background music, noise, silence. The student exploits his kinaesthetic potentiality when he is able to use movement to mentally recall and externally communicate, whereas according to a particular method of teaching and learning called Total Physical Response (TPS) the physical action while learning may act as a stimulus to recall learn­ing itself (AsherJ. 1966,1977 - AsherJ. Price, B.S. 1967).  
From the observations on learning comes the concept of learning as a complex process which involves mind and any of the five powers of the body: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.

The student who revises his lesson walking in the gar­den may remember the blue sky, his neighbour's voice, the smell of the flowers, the taste of his tea and the act of walking itself. The student in remembering all of this in­formation may often recall his learning or some parts of it connected to the perception of his senses and his motion, and usually the development of learning as related to his different moods and gestures at different moments.

1 A...B...F: different topics.  

Alessandra d'Epiro Dusmet de Beaulieu

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