Showing restraint: why less is more in learning

By June 27, 2016 No Comments

There’s a bit of a problem in education.

The problem is simple: TMI.
(Too much information)

I think there’s a misconception that the more information the better – that way we can find the best material and critically analyse multiple sources.

But is this really the case?

In my former life as a secondary school teacher, I figured out that it wasn’t lots of information my students needed but the RIGHT information. As teachers, we are not just educators but curators. We look at the curriculum and instead of grabbing at every source both online and offline to stuff into hour long lessons, we discern. We select. And we deliver no more than we need to.

Restraint is essential.

I think restraint is important in instructional design as well. Perhaps some instructional designers fear they won’t hit this bit of criteria or that if we don’t include every keyword it won’t be valid. Or that compliance means must cover, cover and cover again. While this all makes sense on an intellectual level, it doesn’t mean we’re really educating – not in the true sense of the word. Like I said in my last blog, education actually means to ‘lead out’. So, if we’re too busy stuffing information into our students’ heads or spoon feeding so that we can be sure they complete an assessment, it can’t be true education. Something’s wrong.

Don’t misunderstand me, we need solid and rigorous curriculum to protect students from cowboy operators and poorly designed education programs BUT in the ‘age of information’ we need to be careful. There seems to be a bit of fatigue as we busy our days with email, text messages, social media interaction and the like. The information we add to that increasing burden needs to be pointed – we need to find what ‘cuts through’.

We can better achieve this by appreciating that the crafting of education is an art form. We select, we discern, we tailor and we might need to make some ‘adjustments’. Is it too much, too little or just right?

I’m thinking of Coco Chanel as I write this: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”

The same goes for education. More is not better, more is just simply more.

Leanne Roulston – THINKA Co-founder, Learning

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