The Learning Process: Part 4

Robert Gilman’s Original Article

The Learning Process: Part 1
The Learning Process: Part 2
The Learning Process: Part 3

Part 4: Use

While I’m sure there can be plenty said about this step, Gilman is short on explanation. This might be because it is the most natural part. Doing something is what we want. From the time we are children, we look at someone doing something or read about an idea and we want to put into action. We want to be in the middle of it. Perhaps that’s why my nephew wants to grab the plastic tee-ball bat from my hand when I try to show him how to hold it. He’s only three, so we have to take that into account, but his attention span is just such that he will watch for only a moment before he has to get his hands on the bat and swing for the ball. He wants to do it himself!

After you’ve put in the work through motivation, immersion, and integration, though, you want to be sure and handle the use delicately. Too much too soon can turn you off. Like with the other pieces, failure is good, but overwhelming failure in a short time can be damaging. You will see situations in which you can use your knowledge and understanding to solve a problem or accomplish a task — either by design or by accident. Seizing these opportunities is good, but focusing on certain details instead of everything at once can help prevent burnout.

Just as with motivation, you want to bite off just enough to stoke the fire without smothering it. The fire of learning and understanding in the application process will spread to other areas of your brain and help you develop a more full mental map of the concepts and processes involved.

Doing is important. With sufficient integration of your knowledge, you can begin applying and doing with success. After laying the groundwork, students need to use what they’ve learned to further their understanding and broaden its scope. By doing, we can then move on to the last piece — refinement.

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