Learning something every day

[Arnold Bennet] suggests that we use the evenings for learning. About what? It doesn’t matter, really. But you should spend your time learning about something. [...] The point is that you spend your time learning about something you’re interested in so that you experience it more deeply.


Bennet has a few words of caution for us.

First, he recommends that we start small. With a small amount of time and small expectations. Don’t try to apply this every day of the week. Give yourself a window of an hour for thirty minutes of reflection; expect interruptions and distractions.

Next, he recommends that we don’t become too strict about our regimen. The idea is for the learning and reflection to serve our life, not for our life to serve the regimen.

With anything that improves life, we have to avoid becoming a snob about it. There may be reasons that it doesn’t work for everyone, or why they can’t implement it. Improving ourselves is enough work already — there’s no need to worry about improving everyone else.

Finally, we should be cautious of failure at the beginning. Learning of a way to improve one's life can come with a strong motivation that disappears quickly when things get tough. Be careful not to overdo things.

Takacs on children’s multimedia

As motion and zooming may direct children’s attention to a detail of the illustration in a similar way as an adult pointing at the detail and providing comments or explanations, multimedia may be just as beneficial in supporting story and language comprehension as interaction with an adult explaining the meanings of the story and sophisticated words in the narration.

Read promiscuously

To read promiscuously is to comprehend the caresses of one work in the arms of another—and the promiscuous reader is a pedagogue par excellence. How should we read? We would read as gourmands eat, gobbling down huge gobbets of text. No one told me not to pivot abruptly from Valley of the Dolls to The Brothers Karamazov—so I did; anymore than they warned me not to intersperse passages of Fanny Hill with those written by Frantz Fanon—so I did that, too. By reading indiscriminately, I learned to discriminate—and learned also to comprehend: for it’s only with the acquisition of large data sets that we also develop schemas supple enough to interpret new material.

Matuschak on transmissionism

Lectures, as a medium, have no carefully-considered cognitive model at their foundation. Yet if we were aliens observing typical lectures from afar, we might notice the implicit model they appear to share: “the lecturer says words describing an idea; the class hears the words and maybe scribbles in a notebook; then the class understands the idea.” In learning sciences, we call this model “transmissionism.” It’s the notion that knowledge can be directly transmitted from teacher to student, like transcribing text from one page onto another. If only! The idea is so thoroughly discredited that “transmissionism” is only used pejoratively, in reference to naive historical teaching practices. Or as an ad-hominem in juicy academic spats.

Flewitt on iPad use

[...] well planned literacy-related iPad activities stimulated children’s motivation and concentration, and offered rich opportunities for communications, collaborative interaction, independent learning and enthusiastic learning dispositions. [...] immediate feedback, along with tangible and satisfying end products, motivated children to engage deeply with iPad-based literacy activities, which as one practitioner commented, attracted their attention like ‘bees to a honeypot’

Flewitt on cultural artefacts

“[...] we regard literacy learning as social in origin and mediated through action and interaction using cultural artefacts. These artefacts evolve over time as societies develop, and in the current era, we argue that literate activity is characterised by the use of both print and digital media. Particularly when using digital devices, meanings can be expressed through multiple modes of symbolic representation, such as combinations of spoken and written language, images, icons, sounds, layout and animation.”

Cahill & McGill-Franzen on trans-literacy

Reading e-books promotes traditional literacy skills and is particularly supportive in the area of vocabulary development, and young children’s interaction with enhanced digital books also advances their facility to communicate and comprehend across modes and platforms, sometimes called trans-literacy development.

Brunetti on photocopying

Making photocopies of our originals is quite instructional, because we get a clue as to how our work will look when reproduced and how to “size” our artwork by considering the final reproduction as we create our original. We may need to adjust and clarify our drawing if our lines do not reproduce as intended.

Avoid frills or unnecessary elaborate flourishes; simplify your range of gray tones. As Art Spiegelman wrote in Dead Dick, his Dick Tracy homage, “Never stipple when you can hatch. Better yet, use black.”