Strategic Development in Learning

Understanding the capacity-building process enables us to reflect upon, refine and apply our capacities to new situations to enhance our autonomy and responsibility. Just as artisans need to be skilled in their trade and the strategies of their craft, so do learners. As there are many successful strategies to building a house, there are also many successful strategies to learning. These strategies can be taught and learned. Educators can teach, model, assess and develop strategic learning skills such as making associations, connections, inferences, conclusions, interpretations, summaries and decisions.

Consultation with and among learners is one of the most powerful tools for acquiring new knowledge, skills, qualities and dispositions. Consultation involves seeking truth through joint sharing and investigation. It requires some training and self-discipline to be done successfully and effectively. Consultation requires developing the skills of comparing and contrasting. This problem-solving approach utilizes our knowing, loving and willing faculties to evaluate options and identify truth from falsehood, fact from opinion and cause from effect.

Some strategies and skills related to consultation and learning given in research (Marzano, et al., 1997) include being aware of our thinking and resources while pushing the limits of our knowledge and ability. We strive for accuracy, clarity, sensitivity and open-mindedness in our discussions. As we generate new ways of viewing situations using questioning, analyzing, comparing, contrasting and evaluating, we also learn to express our views with moderation, care, detachment and consideration, always trying to balance the principles of truth, love and justice.

Using the truth can assist strategic thinking and complex learning by helping students develop their own potential. Using justice is itself a form of strategic thinking. Our capacities will be enhanced as we develop and use them in more complex, expanded and unique situations. Understanding which of the knowing, loving or willing modes we prefer can help us to start and facilitate our developmental process. Educators can help students make choices of approaches and activities that will assist in effective learning using strategies such as redirection, probing and reinforcement.

Peer teaching where learners question and help one another to solve learning problems can help develop capacity. Developing reasoning and powers for unfettered search for knowledge and independent investigation of truth are essential to thinking for oneself and true learning. Memorization is a very useful and necessary learning tool that can help students become successful learners. Meditation and reflection are also effective strategies and valuable learning tools, since encouraging our head and heart to work together can lead to great discoveries and accomplishments in science, the arts and life. Parables, stories, metaphors, analogies, play, recreation, travel, music, the arts, drama and other creative expressions can facilitate learning. As we incorporate several of these strategies to further understanding of human potential, we will advance individually and collectively.

The above thinking strategies help build capacities, especially the knowing and willing. Modeling and providing students with instruction in thinking skills to promote growth makes available ways of constructing and developing the knowing capacity and involve the loving and willing capacities in learning. 

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About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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