Sunday, March 28, 2010

Learner vs. performer

I'm taking a class called Learning Principles. In the lecture, they said that learning requires hard work, it's not just a matter of you either have the ability or you don't. They talked about Bobby Fischer as an example, describing the many hours he devoted to practicing chess.

Then they talked about the difference between performers and learners. A performer does what they are told. They try to do well in the class. If you tell a performer that if you don't come to class and don't read the book, you will get an A, the performer will be happy that he doesn't have to do the work. The lecturer said a learner on the other hand would be someone like Bobby Fischer -- he wouldn't have seen it as a positive if you told him he could get an A if he didn't practice chess.

Someone in the class raised the point that it's not realistic to expect students to be learners when taking required courses that don't interest them.

No one made a connection to what was mentioned earlier in the lecture, that Bobby Fischer dropped out of school in order to do chess. Sometimes what a person wants to learn does not mesh with what the educational system tells them to learn.

What would I devote my time to? What am I interested in enough to pursue as a learner rather than a performer?

Or, am I a performer by nature? Earlier in this class, we talked about learning styles, and it was clear that some people prefer more structure than others. Doesn't that mean that it's okay if it's my nature to do the work that I am assigned, rather than to pursue open-ended things?

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