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Fig. 1. Learning: "When a sperm and egg cell unite"


The highest or best art form among humans is that of making babies together, and the art of living may be about as good, and other arts are contained in the first two of them. Further, nearly "every adult" in his or her prime may be capable of taking part in the art of loving, and willing too.

In a mirthful sexual encounter, many little swimmers brimming with data try to get to an egg, if there is any available. Whether a union is happy and delightful or nor, a few of the tiny swimmers are able to forge ahead until they meet a ready egg, and the results may come to the fore in time.

A union may bring many strong results.

Data mingles with experiences likewise

The figure above is also one of arriving at life lessons. It is a natural scheme for how nput (data, information) and experience unite, and that is what learning is about. Classy ideas (output) can be compared to semen. If they get into a circle of experience (an egg) inside someone, something new can be given birth some time later, like a new-born child - not exactly like the seminal idea that went into making it, and not exactly like the ovum part either, but something novel which ideally is healthy and long-lasting, if things go well. Further evolutions allow for rearing, protecting, fostering, schooling, and applications.

Information and experience unite to form something new on top of old and established patterns, after some incubation time before a developing result comes out in the open, that is, is born, and then either put to nipples of good nourishment and thorough care, or mismanaged or starved to death. Be gentle enough. Allow time for incubation of seminal ideas, and some space to express them through some art, for example after a night's sleep.

After learning something new, it is good to allow for the new networks of ideas to "mingle with" the already established idea networks in the mind and brain, and thus get better integrated. The way of finding good incubation time for new ideas is a vital part of Waldorf pedagogy, where it is a regular feature of its ongoing process of learning in a "Waldorf way".

The brain children (ideas) are to be fostered too, not just had.

Simple encounters

Higher and higher learning comes about when fit info and experiences fuse to form understanding. It matters to give already won experiences a constructive spin: such an approach can furnish something to build on, even successively, and is linked to thinking positively also. Keeping a helpful standard, a useful home and a suitable group climate may help.

One may also say that learning is also a culture-forming process

Lessons to learn and build on is what good schooling is about.

Sensibly structured homeschooling is better and cheaper than public schooling

There are tens of thousands of unhappy schoolchildren around. It is in part due to mobbing, which affects learning adversely. It is sensible to establish a decent group climate where children are safe to learn. Their learning outcomes can be helped by that measure alone. [Note 1]

"When we insert a lot of money and get mediocre results out of it, we have of course a problem," says the Norwegian Department of Education. Spending money and spending money wisely and well are two different things - Wise spending helps learning outcomes and thriving a lot. [Note 2]

Waldorf Education, a private school system where artful presentation of material is a key, and incubation time for artful expression of ideas another, experiences a better group climate that public schools, Wikipedia informs. Besides, Waldorf students outperform students from public schools as to grades etc. (WP, "Waldorf education").

Structured homeschooling works far better than public schooling, too, and may be several times cheaper. If you would like to homeschool your dear ones, there are ways to work it up. [Homelearner statistics]

It is wise to judge the results of public schooling, Waldorf schooling and wise homeschooling, and the costs of schooling too. Let the results speak for themselves.

Structured homeschooling versus public schooling: A Canadian study

In a study, Sandra Martin-Chang and her colleagues compared 37 homeschool students with 37 similar-age, matched public school students living in the same area.

Most homeschooling parents took a structured approach to education. They "set out clear educational goals for their children and offered structured lessons in the form of either purchased curricula or self-made lesson plans (often some combination of both)."

A minority of homeschooling parents said they rarely or never used premade curricula and structured lesson plans.

So the researchers had three groups to compare: (1) Public school students; (2) Structured homeschooling students; (3) Unstructured homeschooling students. On achievement tests administered in the children's homes the questions covered seven distinct academic areas, including reading comprehension, science, and mathematics.

Overall, the structured homeschooling group performed much better than the public school group.

So Canadian children receiving structured home schooling were very testing well, the researchers have concluded. It was not merely a reflection of their parents' affluence or educational levels. But children who get unstructured homeschooling got lower scores than the structured homeschoolers did. [◦The source]

Learning Defined

A fine learning definition by Robert M Smith:

Learning . . . is an activity of one who learns. It may be intentional or random; it may involve acquiring new information or skills, new attitudes, understandings or values. It usually is accompanied by change in behavor and goes on throughout life. It is often thought of as both processes and outcomes. Education can be defined as "the organized, systematic effort to foster learning, to establish the conditions and to provide the activites through which learning can occur." [in Gross 1999, 30]

Thus, learning is something that takes place and concerns new attitudes and new information, and so on. Some of the definitions of learning include outward changes as results of inward changes, and other definitions do not. Wikipedia offers parts of this summary: Learning is acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, preferences or understanding, and may involve synthesizing different types of information. Humans, animals and some machines may learn, but not equally well on different learning levels. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves.

Apart from being given semen (being informed), humans learn from play, humans learn by exploring things, experimenting, rules, interacting. Children often make meaning of their environment through play.

Learning and teaching is not the same. Learning is what happens within a person. You may (or may not) come to profit greatly from its results as time goes by. Teaching, on the other hand, is a performance that fails when it is is schemed to conformise and to dwarf natural, inborn interest in learning as school years go by. However, a part of that may be counteracted by proper study methods. Let us hope so.

Learning outcomes (loosely understood as what we can recall and put to some use) are fit for measuring educational institutions.

Meagrely measured learning outcomes, like values, preferences and changed attitudes, are important too.

Improve Learning

  • Interest in learning and learning itself take place in compulsory public schooling too, although the learning outcomes are lower than those for sensible home schooling and Waldorf schooling.

  • By applying the best, fit methods from assorted learning techniques you may be able to benefit more from public schooling too, and get less hurt by its nervous cramming for grades by exams and further.

  • Basically, learning is an intimate or personal matter. However, the state is served by educational systems that are enforced by sanctions. It serves the state to have much control over the education that goes on in the name of teaching, but the results of compulsory education are worse than many expect. An example: Jarand Rystad once investigated how much former students and older students at NTNU (the Norwegian University of Technology and Science) could muster at an unannounced exam in mathematics. They had all passed that exam earlier. Seventeen persons were subjected to the university exam, and all flunked. Half of them had nothing to write. [Note 3]

This becomes all the more interesting in the light of that half of the persons on the test were researchers at SINTEF and doctorate students, and all failed on an exam they had previously taken. Suffice to say that good learning methods and teaching methods (rigmarole) are designed to counteract massive forgetting, but Norwegian universities typically ignore the basics of it. [Note 3]

Where the learning outcomes are good, the teaching methods could have have been all right.

Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are concerned with the achievements of the learner rather than the intentions of any teacher. They can take many forms and can be broad or narrow. The term 'learning outcome' stands for such as gains in knowledge, demonstrable skill or understanding due to a learning process. Those gains should be assessible too. Further, Unesco includes (altered or built) attitudes among learning outcomes.

Smith's definition of learning (two sections above) includes parts that are not very easy to measure, namely internal changes in students or learners. The reason is some such changes and gains may go unnoticed by others, and those who are in the process of giving birth to them (compare 'incubation' in the top section) may be unaware of them for a long time as well. Sound research allows for incubation of new material. Many researchers have applied the principle of incubation to eventually come up with good solutions to problems.

When teaching is not well adapted to how humans learn - including how memory works - many resources spent on teaching - that is, on formal schooling or a school system - are quite in vain, because the learning outcomes that may be measured or dealt with otherwise, seem poor - (1) as compared to how they might be if the regular teaching efforts had been in accord with how learning works; (2) as compared to structured homeschooling; and (3) as compared to Waldorf schooling.

Sound learning is a process that enriches you within, wheras the humdrum of formal education often takes liking away, which is sad. A noble educator would have nothing of the sort.

Learning may be part of both education and personal development and so on. In quite intelligent animals and humans, sound learnings comes with play. And learning may come about without conscious awareness, as in passive learning. As for learning ways in formal studies and out of school, learning can be helped on and up by such as:

  • Spacing learning sessions according to a plan that works.

  • Overlearning may help in some disciplines, as in learning languages.

  • Rest and sleep helps learning: ideally, rest is incorporated in a day's learning process.

  • Reasonable or proficient study skills favour learning too.

Material on such aspects of learning are on-site [Link].

Lower sides to learning, as imprinting (among animals) habituation, association, and conditioning, are for animal ways, by and large.

But studied rote-learning (cramming) can help in a nervous, exam-fixated study, and suggesting ways and means to profit from cramming with little wear and tear. Nonetheless, the stress on this site is on higher forms of learning: observation, play, story-telling, personal insights, not unlike scientists and researchers who struggle for solutions by trial and error, clever incubations and much else.

Learning helps personal development, and study skills favour learning. There could be much you can do outside school and in school by "riding" on convenient study methods that suit you.


Nature and Nurture

There are many ways of sharing knowledge on the Internet today. Free (enough) learning is opposite to routine discipline. Family study groups are possible, such as Tony Buzan in one of his books thinks of outside a formal learning system and parallell with it.

Nonformal, informal and formal education may blend somewhat, as in open learning, which is supposed to allow learners a large measure of self-determined, independent and interest-guided learning.

Distance education, also called distance learning and e-learning, offers education to students who are not physically "on site". Content on the Gold Scales has been put to use by schools and universities.

Learning takes place in many arenas.

Much learning is of the long term memory, LTM

"Impress deeply and well enough and learning is wont to happen." It may also work with "often enough" or "regularly".

What is learnt at any time, is integrated with what we manage to recall from what we have learnt or got inklings of earlier. Sound rest and sound sleep see to that. That is when integrating new content (lessons) with the old content (older lessons and experiences) takes place. Subconscious integration takes place during rest and sleep, and should be encouraged.

Jeanne Ormrod devotes two chapters in her Human Learning to the long-term memory and how to make good use of it. As she writes, "Storing information in long-term memory and retrieving it later can be a tricky business," and "Long-term memory provides a mechanism for saving information over a relatively long time period. It also provides a knowledge base from which to interpret new information." (2012, 184)

To add to that: Susan Nolen-Hoeksema et al. think: "The better the retrieval cues available, the better our memory (2014, 275)."

Many such cues are mind-associations. Accordingly, memory depends on mind-associations. Personal experiences differ and mental associations diversify with time. Buzan and Buzan demonstrate in Mind Mapping (2010:37-40), that mental associations generally become increasingly individualised. This should be allowed for too. Besides, we learn by practicing things, apart from being keen observers. Benjamin Bloom and colleagues show there are many sides to and several levels of learning too.

There are ample reasons to allow for observational training and accommodating the teaching far better to full-scale appropriation of learning material too.

Design Your Learning Sessions Well and You Can Prosper

If you understand everything in a lecture and have forgotten perhaps eighty percent of it after half a month, have you learnt well for life? After six and twelve months without refreshing the material once understood from a session, almost everything is forgotten beyond retrieval. The curve of forgetting makes for sinister reading. To combat it strategically is much of what learning techniques is about.

Much learning depends on our memory and its ways of working. Proper schooling aims at fostering learning full well by taking into account what we know in general about how long-term learning comes about, and what fosters and what interferes with learning.

Special remedying measures can be easily applied to preserve the fruits of your tedious study and lectures in your "memory bank" if clever study ways are properly applied. It has been estimated by the maker of the 3QSR study method, Robinson, that 80 percent of the study time is best spent on memorisation (Robinson 1962; Atkinson et al. 1987, app]. Memorisation can be done in different ways.

Understanding and recall are different things For example, averaging curves of forgetting show that 80% of the content of a lecture is forgotten after 14 days unless memories are refreshed and jogged.

Learning may occur in spite of what happens in schools, and in spite of homework assignments too. Alfie Kuhn has found from 300 studies that schoolwork assignments generally make no difference: Children get no better grades or study habits by homework. Yet, some tell that homework helps. It depends on how the homework is organised. How well it is adapted, whether it is to cement classroom teaching or give new informations. Such facets matter to clarify. It is not just a question of homework or not, but what kind of homework it is, how it is administered, adapted - things like that. For all that, Kuhn says:

Widespread assumptions about the benefits of homework - higher achievement and the promotion of such virtues as self-discipline and responsibility - aren't substantiated by the available evidence. [Kuhn, p. 3]

In schools, the effects of the money spent and the efforts can be easily measured by how much is recalled after some time.

The learning climate should not be threatening for the best levels of learning to occur. Examinations are somehow artificial and unjust ways of motivation and assessment, and can be made into roadblocks on the way of success, hamper the dear learning process and lead to nervousness and brokenhearted people. Other ways of "motivation" and assessments are possible. It is a matter of choices. Benjamin Bloom's mastery learning offers a good approach.

Cramming for examinations is too short-sighted, and may hurt and often derange the splendid learning process deep inside. Yet, if you cannot afford not to cram, do it. At the same time you can access well designed study methods designed to make hard work easier and the effects better. By using your study time better, you may even win spare time. It happens to some who learn mind mapping, Tony Buzan claims.

From a cognitive perspective there are ample reasons to say that many sorts of teachings mar the learning process. It should not be that way. Learning is served by a good end goal, something fit to go for; teaching aids, teaching artistry and learning methods.

Schoolwork assignments that make nervous and anxious, are hardly fit all along. Much depends on a cosy learning environment.

Learning Follows Its Own Dynamics

Mastery in any field, from cooking to chess to brain surgery, is a gradual accretion of knowledge, conceptual understanding, judgment, and skill. These are the fruits of variety in the practice of new skills, and of striving, reflection, and mental rehearsal. Memorizing facts is like stocking a construction site with the supplies to put up a house. Building the house requires not only knowledge of countless different fittings and materials but conceptual understanding, too . . . Mastery requires both the possession of ready knowledge and the conceptual understanding of how to use it. (Brown, Roediger III and McDaniel 2014, 18)

Knowing things like the ones above and kind encouragement is good. You may as well reward yourself by charting the time you spend on study each day, and give small "gifts" to yourself at intervals. It may count as self-help reinforcment. As soon as you have earned it, enjoy your present.

To go actively for self-help in the field of learning could help too.

Yoga training for learning

Best meditation ways have carry-over effect into study. You can combine sound meditation and study to your benefit: [◦David Lynch Foundation > TM research].

Sound meditation helps in developing the mind, and may make it far more appreciative to learning and other experiences.

Combine relaxing and studying with tact, and you may benefit.

Repeat basic ideas at intervals to fasten their neural networks. Then you learn better

Bring interest with you or into the study; built on what is there. To awaken interests, read into subjects and they may become subjects of interest. Organise your study well, so that your home sessions have frequent pauses. Try to assimilate the key points of the subject to study, memorise at intervals. In such ways you get handles - and can much easier reach and find relevant content in your "memory bank".

We have a working memory and a long-term memory (LTM). The latter is the most important for life-long learning. Some things do not need overlearning and repetitions to enter the LTM, you learn them once and they stick for life. But for much in a study, sound study methods count. Stay calm and relax . Mete out portions of the material and allot time to them. You have to calculate a little for it, but then you have some control over the study.

Repetitions (memorisations) are the activity students may learn the most from. That could be time best spent if there is enough time enough for learning something new too. Have a good dictionary or two or three very easily accessible; an encyclopedia too. These helpers could prove to be decent time and time again.

The working memory soon forgets items, and making items stick in the long term memory can be hard study work, unless there is much interest too.

Learn the Tricks of the "Trade": Learn how to learn well

Better grades and solid output could be among the benefits of learning. Delicate id-rooted associations that learning depends on, can better occur in an environment that is not tense and not gruesome. "Learn with pleasure," accordingly.

If you study till you get mental pegs (handles), the mental associations tend to get activated by it, and you may remember things far better than without such pegs. Assimilate the best items of the mnemonic arts and pass them on, as teaching other reinforces your own learning.

Study in a group may be helpful along with individual efforts more on one's own.

Where the students do not cram with pleasure, something appears to be less than all right -


From time to time you need to refresh your study subjects. It may be best done from your note-books so long as much major content is still retrievable. In such cases, by looking at the key words and key phrases you have written down, memories and ideas can start getting back to you, and content gets activated. You remember; ideas are brought to mind again, as out of a slumber. It may pay to be lax during overhauls and upkeeps.

There are steps and stages of learning too. Benjamin Bloom and colleagues show how.

Wise study methods are sound and may not cause you sorrows, but failing theories may do so and often will.

Rounding off

Karl Popper is cited in The Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy (2014):

The question about the sources of our knowledge . . . has always been asked in the spirit of: "What are the best sources of our knowledge – the most reliable ones, those which will not lead us into error, and those to which we can and must turn, in cases of doubt, as the last court of appeal?" I propose to assume, instead, that no such ideal sources exist . . . and that all "sources" are liable to lead us into error at times. And I propose to replace, therefore, the question of the sources of our knowledge by the entirely different question: "How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?"

D. C. Phillips adds some comments, telling that Popper means that sense experience was neither a fully reliable "source," nor a fully reliable "last court of appeal" for purposes of verification. Yet, acting on our beliefs and noting the consequences can at least allow us to "detect and eliminate error." It is worth noting that there is some similarity here with the philosophy of William James, John Dewey, and the other classical pragmatists."

(All: Phillips, 2014, 646)

Buddha goes "ten steps further," implying: "Don't believe neither Popper nor Phillips stupidly. Believe neither of their opinions stupidly nor older opinions and claims stupidly. Live well, rather. [Kalama Sutta]


Learning by Nature's design and schemes, learning as experience and information, Literature  

Atkinson, Richard, et al. Introduction to Psychology. 9th ed. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1987.

Brown, Peter C., Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel. 2014. Make It Stick; The Science of Successful Learning. London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Buzan, Tony, and Barry Buzan. 2010. The Mind Map Book: Unlock Your Creativity, Boost Your Memory, Change Your Life. Harlow: BBC Active / Pearson.

Gross, Ronald. Peak Learning: A Master Course in Learning How to Learn. Rev ed. New York: J. Tarcher/Putnam, 1999.

Kohn, Alfie. 2006. Why Our Children Get Too Much of a Bad Thing. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press.

Nolen-Hoeksema, Susan, Barbara L. Fredrickson, Geoffrey L. Lofthus and Christel Lutz. 2014. Atkinsons and Hilgard's Introduction to Psychology. 16th ed. Delhi, IN: Cengage Learning India.

Ormrod, Jeanne Ellis. 2012. Human Learning. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Phillips, D. C., ed. 2014. Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy. Los Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Robinson, Francis P. Effective Reading. New York: Harper and Row, 1962.

Rystad, Jarand. 1993. "Alt glemt på grunn av ubrukeleg eksamensform? En empirisk undersøkelse av Matematikk 2 eksamen ved NTH." UNIPED No. 2-3, 1993:29-50.

Schunk, Dale. Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2012. ⍽▢⍽ An 8th edition was published in January 2019.


1. Statped. Elevenes arbeidsmiljølov. 28 August 2009. [Link]. Also []

2. Lisbet Rugtvedt. Kan kommunene gjøre mer for å få en bedre skole? (May municipalities do more to get a better school?). Speech/Article. Kunnskapsdepartementet. 6 March 2008. [◦Link]

3. Jarand Rystad. Alt glemt på grunn av ubrukeleg eksamensform? En empirisk undersøkelse av Matematikk 2 eksamen ved NTH. UNIPED nr 2-3, 1993:29-50. A summary in Norwegian.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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