Why do we need to record our Significant Experiences?


Learning is everywhere and it happens all the time. You don’t have to take a class or read a book to count it as learning. You can be in  the state of learning while doing anything, especially doing what interests you. So learning is not about a particular type of activity such as taking a class but more of a state of mind,  sensing of yourself, especially of your growth. If you keep focused on your growth, you can learn from various activities, orchestrating them to achieve the maximum learning effect.  By recording our Significant Experiences every day, we can keep focused on our internal growth. If you keep recording your significant experiences for a long while, you might be able to build up systemic knowledge from these experiences , and it will be your personal knowledge. 

We hope students can learn how to learn by recording their daily significant experiences. Learning how to learn is what we teach in Paracraft Education. 

You might understand the above in terms of Flow. Regardless whether Flow is an accurate or really scientific term, it is widely used by people so it may help you understand what I mean by using this word. 

OK, let’s temporarily borrow the term Flow to describe what kind of flow we try to achieve by recording our daily significant experiences. Learning, to me, is to explore what interests you to achieve a better understanding so that you can do things better. So a key here is “better understanding”, and this understanding is an understanding of the whole. Such understanding of the whole is based on your significant experiences gained through various activities. For example, in Paracraft Learning Center, we observed that kids aging 6 to 12 have a very good capacity to build up knowledge models by summarizing significant experiences they gained through a lot of hands-on projects. For example, when asked to build up the knowledge model of 3D animation programming, the children were able to list things like 3 dimensional coordinates, events and responses, and so on. Unlike conventional classes, we had never given any lectures on programming before that point. What all the students did up to that point are just doing projects, from small ones to bigger ones. However, they are able to sense these significant experiences and are able to recognize them as important elements of the 3D animation programming, which is totally new to them when they started. 

So conventional schools’ teaching are mainly based on courses. They seldom give students time to do a lot of hands-on projects to gain experiences by themselves, not to mention letting the students summarize their knowledge by themselves based on the experiences they gained. In classes, the students are just following the teachers step by step. You know that if you always follow someone else to go to some place, you never know how to get there by yourself. 

Learning is a process of exploration, and building up knowledge based on experiences gained through such exploration. This is an innate ability everyone is born with, and it is an essential characteristic of what life is. So no wonder the more classes children take, the more they lose the capacity to learn. And the teachers who really possess such significant experiences and have constructed knowledge from these experiences, are the teachers who can guide students in their exploration for learning. 

I will not dive deeper here. Let’s go back to the Flow. So students should build up a flow from drops of Significant Experiences to understanding of the whole. Let’s extend this flow a bit. At the beginning, let’s add some learning plan or awareness of what you intend to learn. At the end we add the application of your knowledge to the activities you are doing and try to gain feedbacks from it. So this we formed a closed loop, and we repeat it over and over again like a spiral going upwards. With this spiral, we encounter new activities, we are able to recognize knowledge in new activities. Past, present and future knowledge are connected, we expand our interests and knowledge, one leading to another, endless curiosity and endless knowledge. 

So the learning areas in the learning plans don’t need to be conventional subjects such as math or English. It can be anything that interests you, any area that you want to have a better understanding of the whole, or build up knowledge models. 

If we can build up knowledge models of a domain, then we can build up our understanding of it quickly. This model might be rough at the beginning. However, it is sufficient to guide your current actions. And you can refine your models based on the significant experiences you gained through your activities. So we can deepen our flow according to knowledge models. Many elements of education such as peer learning, how teachers mentor, teacher recruitment, teacher training can be done a lot better if done according to knowledge models. This understanding of knowledge, is what can be digitized and thus this is the base of Internet Education. (Moving classes online is in no way Internet Education.). There are a lot more to be talked about on this. But we will stop here today. 

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