I woke up this morning thinking about learning and what it takes for one to receive data in some form or fashion and actually apply it long-term memory (LTR). I’m new to the area of learning theories and functions of the brain so my knowledge is limited and some of my reasonings may even be naive but this is what was on my mind this morning. I have a friend who is trying to get her GED. She studies and works but some areas of her study just don’t “click” for her. She has had particular difficulty and disappointment with fractions. I would devote a lot of time with her, showing her how to perform the functions, drawing depictions, and she would simply say, “I can’t do it’. One day she came to me very excited and hugged me. With a big smile she said, “I get it! It clicked”.

So how much does confidence play into the act of learning? Countless studies have been conducted on what happens in the brain when one receives data and how the brain stores such data. We all have different ways we apply ourselves to commit data to memory for later recall. Sometimes it works, sometimes we have to work a little harder but what happens we don’t believe we can learn it, when we allow ourselves to be intimidated by the subject matter? One study I found suggested that the way we handle our problems is a direct reflection on our learning ability and that those who seek knowledge tend to have more self-confidence (Radwan, 2012)). Where is the link between self-confidence and learning? How does one inspire someone who doesn’t believe they can “do it”? All the learning theories and methods that are present in today’s classrooms are ineffective if the student does not believe in himself. We, the instructor, professor, teacher, or whatever your professional title may be, have to consider “where” your student is mentally when you expect them to learn during your presentation.

When we consider that working memory (WM) only lasts for a few seconds, we have to assume we only have a few seconds to convince or persuade our student to associate that data with something inside their head and learn. We have to make them believe they “can do it” or our instruction falls on deaf ears so to speak. We need to find a way to make our subject be of interest to them if they feel it is too hard for them. Inspire them. I propose that in all our endeavors, we never forget that our students are individuals with situations at home or processes running in the back of their minds while they attend our classes. Just because they are sitting there does not mean they will learn. Children in school are not necessarily knowledge seekers but they are forced (lack of a better word) to attend class. We must not forget to HELP them learn, not just teach them.

Radwan, M. (2012) http://www.2knowmyself.com/the_connection_between_self_esteem_and_learning