Teacher Feature #51 – Learning and Bicycling

There are at least two things in my life that are of great interest to me. Learning, as a life long process, and bicycling. In addition, I am continually amazed at how “connections”, fostered through the Internet, provide such unique opportunities to learn.

For example, Brian Wilson, a life-time friend and fellow cyclist, sent me an email containing a video link to “The Backwards Brain Bicycle” shared through “ViewPure”. I encourage readers to watch this eight minute video to gain insight into the ways learning and bicycling are related, how knowledge is not understanding, and how learning is so much easier when you are younger.

In school and university, I had to work hard to get good grades. I spent countless hours studying by writing out notes long-hand. For me, this process helped me remember important concepts and ideas for later tests. Learning new concepts didn’t come easily, but my work ethic helped me compensate.

Teacher Feature #51-400x300
Teacher Feature #51 – George Weah – May 2015

It was much later in life, when playing the board game “Trivial Pursuit”, that I better understood how I learned. A family member read out a trivia question from one of the game cards. Rather than concentrate on the auditory input, I asked him to show me the card so that I could read exactly the words that he had spoken. It seemed that my brain had difficulty retrieving the correct answer when I was only provided an auditory stimulus. It was then that I realized that I was a visual learner, as opposed to our younger son, who as an auditory learner, can repeat verbatim portions of the dialogue from movies he has enjoyed.

This difference in learning styles was demonstrated to me over the past few months. About one year ago, I joined the Winnipeg Golden Chordsmen – a group that sing in the 4-part a capella style of Barbershop harmonizing. Although each member is provided audio learning tracks of a new song in his “voice” (be it tenor, lead, baritone or bass), I had continual difficulty learning the lyrics. As a member of the “lead” section, I tend to sing the melody lines and lyrics of the song. Many of my colleagues would listen to a new song’s audio track, for a half dozen times, and would then have both the lyrics and tune committed to memory. Such individuals must be auditory learners because I could listen to the song for an hour at a time and still have difficulty remembering certain phrases. In fact, I had to type or hand-write out the lyrics so I could see where there were common words or when certain phrases were repeated to help me visualize the story behind the song and help me retain the lyrics. Obviously, I still have to use my limited auditory capabilities to help me learn the melody so that I can contribute to the harmonizing of our “lead” section..

Now … it’s true that 50 years have passed since I first started university. I recall that my university learning process was not blindingly fast but I know it was faster than it appears today. It seems to me that you are able to learn and acquire knowledge much faster as a young person and this talent seems to slow down with increased age. In fact, the previous “The Backwards Brain Bicycle” video demonstrates how a young child can master a task so much faster than an adult. True, the sample size may be somewhat small to prove significant, but I would still share this video with students to illustrate how much easier it is for them to learn, than when they become older. I encourage teachers to promote the idea, and comparative ease, of student learning.

As we age, we may no longer acquire information or learn at the same rate as youngsters. However, educators must continue and demonstrate their life-long learning to their students. For teachers, the acquisition of new and complex concepts may no longer be “as easy as riding a bike”, but we still need to explore them. For example, my good friend not only sent me “The Backwards Brain Bicycle” video to explore, he also provided me with an opportunity to learn more about “ViewPure”.

I must admit that when I first read my friend’s email about this biking video, I simply clicked on the embedded link without giving the details of the source address a second thought. However, I did notice that the video presentation seemed less cluttered than the standard “YouTube” display. It was then that I looked more closely and found out the “ViewPure” claimed to allow one to “Watch YouTube videos without comments, ads, or other distractions.”

As an educator, I ask you to view this “Backwards Brain Bicycle” video from two different Internet depositories to see which display you prefer:

If you prefer the cleaner, less distracting, display of ViewPure, you can copy the Internet address (URL) of your favourite educational YouTube videos, and use the features of “ViewPure” to “purify” the display.

Not only will this process help educators display videos with less distractions, it may also provide educators with a source for “purified” videos which are not restricted by your school’s or school division’s blocking software.

In summary, I encourage all youngsters to get in the habit of learning while they are young. In addition, I suggest that all educators foster a classroom learning opportunities, as exemplified by my Life-Long-Learners logo, where the teacher learns along with the students. Once you get in the habit of creating such a caring and sharing learning environment, it will become second nature … just like “riding a bike”.

Take care & keep smiling 🙂

Larger Image: Brian Metcalfe’s Teacher Feature “photostream”

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