Impediments to Learning

What kinds of things hindered your learning?

12 responses

14 05 2010
educ107learnerbiographyproject

I cannot say that my schooling experience was the most positive of experiences. In the first half of high school I was in a selective class with a set group of peers. Unfortunately, there were only 5 girls in this class, one of which I was very close friends with in primary school but had decided I was not worth her time. The isolation of the class was very difficult endure. In such a small class, everyone knew what was going on with everyone else and a consequence of being ostrasized by one, very popular student, lead to me having absolutely noone in the class even speak to me. I could not escape this group of people and there is no way for a teacher to monitor what is going on. It was very difficult to find motivation to go to school, yet only do my homework not to mention the damage it did to me emotionally. To this day I still struggle in social situations and tend to shy away in large groups which can have a very negative effect on my learning.

-Maggie

31 05 2010
educ107learnerbiographyproject

Negative school experiences have a way of haunting you for such a long time! I can understand where you are coming from. When I started high school in Year 7, I also experienced severe bullying. It’s something that affected me so much, I still find it difficult to talk about. And that kind of emotional turbulence definitely impacts upon your learning and motivation.

-Sonal

31 05 2010
educ107learnerbiographyproject

It is amazing how the social situation of a class can have such an effect on your self-esteem and therefore your ability to succeed in other areas. Just from a now ‘teacher’s pespective’ I am interested to know – do you think if the teacher had known what was going on in the class they would have been able to do anything to help? Would this have made you feel better/worse? Would you have chosen to leave the class if you had been given the opportunity?

– Emily

31 05 2010
educ107learnerbiographyproject

I think one of the things that made everything worse was that everyone knew what was going on, including the teachers. But exclusion bullying is a very difficult thing to monitor and act upon. The closest I saw to any form of action by the teacher was when one of the girls was spoken to for an abusive note she’s written. The deputy principal, who was in contact with my mother after an event in which several students were using the school’s pay phone (which mysteriously disappeared after the incident) to make collect calls to my home, pose as me and yell ‘help me!’ then hang. The Deputy started an anti-bullying program for the grade, which of course I was blamed for, making me even more popular with the grade.

I tend to look back on my experiences with a different perspective now, I definitely would not be the person I am today without them. Yes, I would not wish them on anyone but without them I probably would not be where I am today, with the friendships I have now. I would be walking a very different path in life.

I answer to your question Emily, while I did consider changing schools, I refused to change classes, mainly due to my pride. My class was a selective class that I had earned my place in, leaving it would have been a demotion and a hit my self-esteem couldn’t take.

– Maggie

14 05 2010
educ107learnerbiographyproject

I procrastinate a lot starting when I was still in elementary school and get distracted easily. Back then, I would watch my favorite tv shows first before doing my assignments or listen to my walkman or discman (no Ipods or mp3s yet) and just wait until the final moments to do those damn papers. In highschool I was a crammer. Just like what I was used to, I started hanging out more with friends, go to malls and other places before accomplishing an assignment. Things got worse in college. I’ll try to list down my distractions: internet, girls, friends, orgs (school organizations), out of town trips, alcohol, FACEBOOK, etc. These are just to name a few. So looking back at what I wrote down now, what really impeded my learning was myself.

The blame is not all on me, though. I remember one professor that I had back in college who was infamous for failing 90% of his students. He expects his students to read piles and piles of articles about international organizations, treaties, laws, etc. Each and everyone of the students were stressed out and scared of him. It was not really a good environment for students to really learn. Aside from bad professors, availability of resources was also a problem. As I’ve said in the “About me” section of this blog, I studied in one of the top schools in the country and that means it’s pretty expensive. I don’t really come from a rich family and so I had to make do with things that were available to me. I wasn’t able to buy most of the recommended books so I had to photocopy most of them. Right now that I’m in uni, what impedes my learnings are the adjustments that I have to make. The stlye of teaching here is different from what I was used to. It’s more independent, impersonal. Add to the fact that I don’t know anybody here, I’m struggling on my own and I can’t run to anyone for help. So the feeling of isolation also impedes my learning.

– Francis

31 05 2010
educ107learnerbiographyproject

I can completely understand about procrastination due to lack of motivation! It’s something everyone struggles with. I think this is especially the case when you are either not engaged with the subject matter or you don’t have a defined goal. I have found the only times I was really motivated to study was when I had a really clear goal that I believed in. For example, studying for my HSC in order to get into the course of my choice. And the only other time I have been self-motivated to study is now, because I am very personally invested in my goal of becoming a good teacher.

It must be really hard to adjust to a whole new style of teaching and learning in a new country where you don’t know that many people. It’s too many new things all at once! But don’t worry, I’m sure it will get better with time.

-Sonal

31 05 2010
educ107learnerbiographyproject

Wow I hear you on the procrastination front. I have it down to such a fine art I even rearrange furniture in my room or re-organise my book shelves before starting something I can’t be bothered with. Out of interest – how was learning different in the Phillipines to uni here when you say it is more independant and impersonal? Would you get more time with your tutors etc. or have more classes?

– Emily

15 05 2010
educ107learnerbiographyproject

I was lying in bed last night thinking about how I learn and what it has been that stopped or impeded me. I’m an avid reader, I love reading books. Last year my cousin and I realised we very incredibly ‘uncultured’ not having read any of the great classics – Bronte, Austen etc. So we endeavoured to complete the Dymocks 101 Booklovers’ Best List of 2009. Consequently I have spent the last year with my nose in a book (or two). One of the things I discovered is that I cannot read and absorb information when there is a distraction – talking, radio, television, lawnmower etc. but I read significantly better when music is playing in the background.

This discovery has made me reflect on my past learning experiences. In year 2 I was the top speller in my class, however by year 4 my spelling was so poor I was sent to a speech pathologists. What went wrong? Well, I suspect the answer lies in my Year 3 class. I had a great teacher in year 3, however in both Year 2 and year 4 I was in a straight class, however in Year 3 I was in not only a composite class but a 1/2/3 class. Needless to say, this class was noisy and I’m now starting to suspect that as a consequence it was my spelling that paid the price. I didn’t need the speech pathologist long, but my spelling was never the same.

– Maggie

28 05 2010
educ107learnerbiographyproject

I think fear of being unable to live up to family and societal expectations impeded my learning. I come from a family that considers education and your success in it, to be extremely important. My Father and Mother both have Masters Degrees in Telecommunications Engineering and Arts/Economics respectively. Even my Grandmother on my mother’s side, who was born in the 1930s, had an Economics degree, which is an amazing achievement for a woman in India during that time. My Father was also somewhat of an educational pioneer in his family of eight brothers and sisters and reached great educational and career heights. I think that set a standard for me and my brother to follow, especially when we migrated to Australia, as my parents’ premier objective was to ensure that my brother and I got a good education.

I think my brother definitely lived up to their expectations. He is now a Cardiologist and was practically a genius growing up! Me, on the other hand, I was a just above average student who even failed to get into a selective school. And being Indian and not achieving that was a pretty big deal, as it was really all Indian parents talked about with each other. I always felt that I was not as smart as my brother, or other children I knew and that I failed to live up to my parents’ expectations in terms of academic performance. I think this really impacted on my self confidence, as I always felt that whatever I achieved would never be good enough.

I think the other aspect that impeded my learning was that whatever I chose to study, whether it was subjects for my HSC or the course I wanted to do at uni, I never chose them according to my strengths but rather what other people expected me to do or perceived as “good”. For example, I received 1st place in the whole grade for Yr 10 Visual Arts, but I never even considered choosing it as a subject for my HSC. It just wasn’t a subject that a “smart” Indian boy or girl chose. Instead I ended up doing Physics and Chemistry which definitely cannot be categorised as my strong subjects. I think doing things to please other people or to live up to their expectations will never achieve good results. Finally, I have let go of all that and I am now doing things for myself and studying Education is something I’m doing only for myself. And I think that’s why I am learning so much, enjoying it and succeeding.

-Sonal

1 06 2010
educ107learnerbiographyproject

I completely understand what you mean about expectations. My extended family (on my mother’s side) had always been close but there has always been an element of competition between the families. As I’ve mentioned in another post, my older brother is a bit of a brainiac (though fortunately for me a lazy one), and my uncle has two children who are the same age as myself and my younger brother. So there was tons of comparision between each of us. Everything I did was compared not only to my brother but to my cousin also, it didn’t help that we were in the same grade at school, however fortunately we were never in the same classes in high school. My younger cousin has dyslexia (I know she would have lots of examples of how difficult learning was for her) and from conversations with her I’ve since realised that all of us felt the pressure of comparision.

– Maggie

29 05 2010
educ107learnerbiographyproject

Yeah i’m with Francis…. Procrastination seriously the source of all evil when i know that i have study/learning to do. i think it comes from a number for sources. Concentration is a big one – often study isn’t the only major factor in our lives and i know for me i find it really challening to focus on one area (say my studies) when i know i have a lot going on in the family area of my life – i think this probably also links to impediments to learning as well.

Focus – sometimes when we know the task a head is so huge and has so much riding on it, it is difficult to find a focal point to start. from here things can sometimes get a bit overwhelming and lead to so frustration as yous tat getting caught up thinking about the big picture side of things when at this points its probablt to think small scall and break things up a little.

I find that is usually for me its a lack of concentration and focus that lead me to procrastinate. I’m not entirely sure that its something that can be avoided entirely, but minimising it would be good.

– Wendy

31 05 2010
educ107learnerbiographyproject

I have to agree with Sonal that I study the best when I have defined goals and something to achieve at the end. If I am in a subject which bores me or confuses me (because of a lack of defined outcomes etc.), I lose any motivation and often dismiss it as fairly useless “in my world”! (This may be a pride thing – if i can’t get it/don’t like it, why would anyone want to :)). This year, even though I am finding the workload pretty heavy with prac as well, I am really motivated to get on with it because I can see a definite goal at the end. Something I want to do and want to do well. This makes such a difference. I am also a visual learner. If a teacher stands out the front and lectures without providing any visuals (even text on a power point) I find it harder to take in and tend to switch off. If I see it in a film, its there for life.

– Emily

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