,You can only ‘hold’ information in your working memory, that is the short-term processing part of your brain. Information needs to be converted to long term memory or it will just be lost, and you must start again. I call this move to storing information in the long-term memory achieving ‘stickability in learning’. Has the information been taught stuck; can students consistently recall information say 1-3-5-days after they were taught it?
Lucy Crehan in her book Clever Lands, which is a rich collection of reflections on her time spent in some of the best performing classrooms across the world (according to PISA results in English, maths & problem solving) calls it memorisation. Japanese students do well in PISA tables in problem solving even though active learning is still a relatively new concept for teachers. Lucy talks about observing Japanese students in Junior High and the way in which they are taught. They must be able to and do recall 2,300 characters as part of their writing system by the time they leave Junior High. Lucy tells us that memorising and committing information to long term memory is intrinsic within pedagogical approaches and learning in Japan.
I know this stuff about short term and long-term memory and needing to achieve ‘stickability in learning’, it’s not new. What is striking and different for me in the book is the consistency of the pedagogical approaches being used in learning in other countries. Pedagogical approaches it seems are at the forefront of teaching and learning. Teachers, students and their parents/carers even, understand the pedagogical approaches being used and therefore students are more able to learn independently in or outside of the classroom. I saw this approach for myself in Finland when observing lessons. One of the first things the teachers did at the start of the academic year in the College I visited was to teach students the pedagogical approaches they were using. That is ‘how we are going to help you learn’. Students in Finland were able to effectively use the pedagogical approaches they had been shown by the teachers, together in groups with each other, with the teacher or independently at home or at work. “Look” said a teacher in Finland “I have many teachers in my classroom” as students actively used and developed the pedagogical approach they had been shown to move themselves and each other forward in learning. A cross curriculum shared pedagogical approach which is effective in achieving ‘stickability in learning’ seems worth its weight in gold. Thanks Lucy it’s been great to refresh my thinking.