The Real Reward of Learning

Yesterday I had to lead another workshop about “Learning to learn” in which I help student mentors to get fit for supporting their younger mentees who are struggling with their school careers.
We talked about procrastination. All students have hands-on experiences with this phenomenon and have to learn to cope with it. Otherwise their academic career would have already ended.
So I asked them about their most successful solutions to their problem of procrastination. And they came up with many variations of carrot-and-stick methods which are mostly the only answer you can get in schools and other learning institutions. They admitted that the problem was persisting despite the deployment of these methods, and an ongoing annoyance. One of them told about procrastinating until the fear of failing becomes so unbearable that she find it better to start at last with learning activities, but even from up there she is only driven by increasing angst. And for another student, procrastination has even let her to quit her studies completely.

This (self-) disciplin-focused answer above didn’t solve the problem for generations of students, as it is proved for a long time and recently decribed by Alfi Kohn in his obvioulsy amongst teachers not well known book Punished by Rewards. Yes, I said “recently”, although the book was written in the late nineties of the last century. But considering the idea of learning with Personal Sense and gnostic learning motives was given to the mankind by the research and theoretical work of Leont’ev already 30 to 50 years earlier, “recently” could be correctly put, as I think.
But what happened next in our workshop?

We found a better solution of dealing with procrastination by listening in detail to some students who told stories about their experiences which we later called stories of happiness. It emerged that learning, working, and eventually every activity, seem to be motivated by a “reward” which is the feeling of this happiness. We all crave for this feeling. Even those who have trouble to remember a situation in what they really felt it could actually imagine how it could feel like. And we found a cycle – or better a spiral – of states we have to go through to achieve this happiness:

And this is a visualisation how a Spiral of Happiness looks like:

Spiral of Happiness

Asked at what station the students should begin with their spiral, the following sentence popped up. I heard it last week in a discussion, and since then it had been sleeping in my mind, just waiting for its useful deployment in my own working context:


Of course there are “techniques” like setting goals, making to-do-lists and calenders and helping oneself through hard times by self-motivating methods. But: Techniques only work if they are seen as only a part of the full picture. And if you watch groups of children or youth who are passionately involved in outdoor activities like e.g. skateboarding you are observing that there is a lot of time to be spent with the object (skateboarding). Much time has to be spent for talking about the object and about the feelings of enjoying the object. (This is especially very rarely at school.) And there is a lot of sharing by demonstrating and a lot of collaborative reflecting about how and why things related to the object have to be done in one way or another.

The Circle of Happiness. I think it is better thought of as a spiral, because once it has started with one completed round, it will become a self-reinforcing process.
Some pupils and students are lucky and discover and develop this spiral by chance, or they adopt it from their parents or peers besides or despite the punish-reward-system of the school. Many are not that lucky.

As a teacher I feel that my job has to be at first place to provide lots of opportunities, encouragement and assistance for every student to build his/her own life-long Spiral of Happiness through Learning Activity. But before I ask what I have or have not to do to make this happen, I wonder: Do I possess this Spiral of Happiness myself? How does it look like as my personal developed creation? And can I get it going on purpose whenever I want? And do I get it going every day?

PLN – an essential social structure for us who live in the emerging age of the Culture of Learning(1) – Part 1

IMG_0526    1. Why I do have to speak about it

Two years ago, Georg Rückriem reviewed my re:publica13 Talk. He noted about my PLN graphic that it looked precisely like the “toolificative” understanding (i.e. reducing media to tools) I wanted to critisize. He was right. But a sufficiently complex understanding of the concept of a Personal Learning Network is still difficult to describe in words and even more difficult to visualize.

Wiedervorlage: Auf dem rechten Auge

Anlässlich der Vorgänge in Heidenau, und wie Mainstreem-Medien und Regierungs-Politik damit umgehen, hier zur Wiedervorlage ein Dokument, das es meines Wissens nach leider bisher in kein Geschichts-Schulbuch geschafft hat (vermutlich aus eben den Gründen, für die es der Nachweis ist: Klassenjustiz in der Weimarer Republik).
Dass nicht nur Justitia, sondern auch die Exekutive, voran die Ordnungskräfte gerne immer wieder das rechte Auge zukneifen, hat Kontinuität bis heute. Scheut sich das politische System mit den Nazis und ihren Dunstkreisen endlich aufzuräumen, weil man meint, man könnte sie in kommenden Auseinandersetzungen doch noch einmal wieder brauchen?

“Weltbild verhindert systematische Ermittlungen” diagnostiziert Christian Semmler in der Taz die Krankheit hinter dem Symptom, das jetzt endlich ob der Größenordnung zum Skandal geworden ist.

Während meines Geschichtsstudiums – auch schon sehr lange her – beeindruckte mich aus dem damals 1975 als Grundlagenliteratur neu herausgekommenen Band von Reinhard Kühnl, Der deutsche Faschismus in Quellen und Dokumenten folgende Tabelle (S. 75):

Nr. 44 Insgesamt ergibt sich über die Zahl der politischen Morde 1919-1922 durch Rechtsstehende und Linksstehende folgende Relation:

Politische Morde, begangen von Rechtsstehenden Linksstehenden
Ungesühnte Morde 27 1
Teilweise gesühnte Morde 326 4
Gesühnte Morde 1 17
Gesamtzahl der Morde 354 22
Zahl der Verurteilungen 24 38
Geständige Täter freigesprochen 23
Geständige Täter befördert 3
Dauer der Einsperrung pro Mord 4 Monate 15 Jahre
Zahl der Hinrichtungen 10
Geldstrafe pro Mord 2 Papiermark

Es ist nicht verkehrt, unter Zuhilfenahme des Fragepronomens “inwiefern” immer mal wieder über Kontinuität und Diskontinuität der Geschichte nachzudenken. Heute ist so ein Tag.

Das Buch gibt es übrigens ab Euro 0,56 gebraucht und als Sammlerstück. Es enthält auf 482 Seiten noch viele weitere sehr interessante Dokumente.

Why I am writing in English from now on

geostationary orbit, CC-BY-SA Brandir, wikimedia commons

geostationary orbit, CC-BY-SA Brandir, wikimedia commons

Yes, I am writing this blog in English from now on. There are many reasons to do so, and only a few not to.

I am bored. For months I have been feeling that all I had been keen to discover, to discuss and to communicate in German and in Germany, I  discovered, discussed and communicated by now or at least for the next period. My own postings, my speeches, and particularly the discussions I am participating in are repeating themselves over and over again. Sometimes, I have the impression that these debates I am in are not making any substantial progress.

Die Zukunft des Lernens: Sinnbildung im 21. Jahrhundert

publicdomain CC0

Foto: CC 0 Public Domain Pixelbaby

Ende der 80er Jahre des vorigen Jahrhunderts besuchte mich mein Schwiegervater zum ersten Mal. Er traf mich und meinen einen Tag alten ersten Sohn in der Entbindungsklinik. Nachdem er sich höflich vorgestellt hatte, sah er das Kind an meiner Brust liegen. Das forderte ihn zu folgendem Statement heraus: “Verwöhne ihn nicht, nimm ihn bloß nicht jedesmal hoch, wenn er schreit, übertreibe es nicht mit der Liebe!” Er war als alter Wehrmachtsoffizier der Ansicht, dass Menschen sich nur richtig entwickeln können, wenn sie ab utero (und ad mortem) von außen gesteuert werden — oder simpel ausgedrückt, von Anfang an Knüppel aufn Kopp kriegen.

Kulturzugangsgerät, kleine Abhandlung

Ich wurde gebeten, etwas zu meiner Wortschöpfung „Kulturzugangsgerät“ zu sagen, etwas Zitierbares. Dem komme ich jetzt nach. Aber vor einer zitierbaren systematischen Erklärung, möchte ich etwas Narratives zur Genese dieser Begriffserfindung mitteilen. Darin liegt nämlich immer auch schon eine Begründung. (Ich bin eine Freundin des historischen Denkens, kein Geschichtsliebhaber.)

Also die Erzählung: