Time to Learn

I have always been one to study and work on the really important stuff late as night when the world around me has gone to bed. I’m talking between the hours of 10PM and 3AM. Is this as crazy as my colleagues and peers think?

I love this quote from an unknown author:

Looking at the night horizon brings you closer to reaching the stars.

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Maria Hadden

I have been discussing this with many educators this week, so I thought I’d put my keyboard to work and reflect upon this in a professional and educational context.

Firstly, my personal experiences: During the years when I studied my Masters degree I was working full time with a growing family (child #5 was on his way). The course I selected was not only due to the courses available, but also it’s delivery format (Online), and thus the ability to learn when I had the time rather than attending university lectures (and “zoning out” during the lecture) only to miss key information while wondering about the family I had to leave to attend the classes. This was an experience I had too often when completing my undergraduate course (with only one child at home).

The delivery method and the ability to interact, collaborate and get the perspective from students from across the world was a great draw card also. When I got into the course I initially found the format foreign and difficult to navigate, both due to the new format for me, and the family distractions. I soon found my optimum time to think, study and learn was late at night. I was able to sustain this with great support from my extended family, and my untold ability to fully function on 6-8 hours sleep is a bonus.

Today I attended a CEGSA organised day full of workshops related to the Moodle environment for secondary school curriculum delivery. This once again aroused the discussion amongst educators about the flipped classroom, and 24/7 access to learning and resources. I again explained to the group that personally, my optimum time for productive work is late night and repeated my reasoning and examples. This then evolved into a rigorous discussion around the big question;

When do learners learn best? And is this always between during conventional school times?

I would suggest for many students even in the conventional school system, that the majority of their true learning happens in the quiet of their home without the distractions of others.

The only problem with this conventional model means that the teacher is not available to assist students outside of the school times…so what do these students do? They turn to the places they know their friends will be and ask them for help – Facebook or other social networks of choice.

In reality the students have flipped the classroom themselves, and providing the opportunity for students to review and reflect the information at their “optimum learning” time is not a bad thing at all. We must recognise this and rethink our professional practices, the availability of teachers when they are required the most for the learners.

Sometimes when the world around you is asleep and you are awake you can look into the dark and see the future – Unknown

The biggest barrier we face in education is to change what it means to be a ‘teacher’, how we ‘teach’ and genuinely cater for all students in the class. I would love to hear your ideas on my remaining big questions:

What will our education system look like if we cater for learners learning at their “Optimal learning time”

How will the conventional school system integrate this new mode of curriculum delivery?

I would love to hear your thoughts, they are valuable to me and other readers...

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