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Clay and Learning Modalities (split from “Newbie Returns fro yet more advice”)


Message added by Callie Beller Diesel,

This thread originally began from “Newbie returns for yet more advice.”

This is an interesting conversation, but I think is growing well beyond the scope of the original poster’s question. I want to encourage everyone to continue the conversation about learning modalities here.

Callie

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Found myself coming back to this thread, as ideas were/are resonating, particularly, comparing/contrasting the times in my life when a) I've learned under the direct and focused tutelage of others vs. b) being in a situation where there's opportunity to observe and practice, but no direct teaching going on with me.

A few points float up from the gurgling goop o' my recollectin':

  There are many many more instances o' the latter than the former, first off.

   Second, of the cases where I was getting focused individualized instruction - whether straight one on one, or one of many where I got slices of "me" time - a subset o' those cases were actually worth a da... uhm, any good (hence, some o' were not good).

  Back to the latter, that's how my two semesters of wheel was, mostly - short demonstration, now you all try it - with one on one for those asking for help and/or obviously struggling, otherwise, left to practice and learn. I'm not complaining (in case the teacher reads this!); no, really - time at the wheel, that's what it takes. Being right there in among'm vs. being alone, though, big huge difference! I could see and hear what was working and what fails, also see and hear variation in effective technique. There's also the opportunity to examine hundreds of other people's work and progression throughout the semester. There's also the social aspect, which I miss so very much. The dust, mess, smells (I can't be around some perfumes, body sprays, hair products, and such), the time required to get back and forth, the vindictive secretly breaking stuff, the grating musical choices (I did change the channel some...), heh, don' miss that.

Well, finding a teacher whose a gonna teach ya, and teach effectively what you want to learn (and/or what you need to learn, mind, especially where want and need aren't same), that doesn't happen often in life, in my experience.

Well II, finding a situation where one may effectively learn, oh, aye, good chance o' finding that, also good chance on making that happen. The big bang explosion o' e media can be part of that. A common/group/social situation can be huge difference maker.

Any road, enjoy the ride an' please post back on what you find.

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Another resonation (for me) associated with this thread* - folk don't all learn the same ways. There still are visual/aural/kinesthetic/etc. models floating about and through the teaching and learning business, which, in my considered opinion are over simplistic, but at least allows for difference. The overwhelmingly typical is start out bein' still and quiet, listen to and watch the expert, then get on with guided practice, which matches up well with maybe a fourth of students, and alienates about a fourth as well, right off th' bat, bang.

More o' my opinion, learning models that include how folks think, how folks process, and how folks interact with others... aha! match up better with reality, See Bernice McCarthy (4-MAT) and other brain research and learning types.

Try paying attention to the how the individuals in the group react when the teaching/learning style shifts - some perk up, some are 'bout the same, some bum out. 

In the typical one mode only scenario, some of the brightest are systematically churned through, and often out.

I'm stunned how prevalent the sense based learning models still are, wow; now I feel nauseous, time to go for a ride.

*Reading this forum generates thought and reflection, thanks to all who participate!

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19 minutes ago, Hulk said:

other resonation (for me) associated with this thread* - folk don't all learn the same ways. There still are visual/aural/kinesthetic/etc. models floating about and through the teaching and learning business, which, in my considered opinion are over simplistic

since you mentioned it,………..And often might be baseless https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhgwIhB58PA

 

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Had a great ride!

How one thinks, processes, and interact with others - see Bernice McCarthy (4-MAT) and other brain research and learning types (actual scientist types), e.g.

el_199010_mccarthy.pdf (ascd.org)

which actually clearly and convincingly support that folks learn differently (note that the focus isn't on overly simplistic see/hear/feel). The application of ideas like McCarthy's, however, isnt simple, which the Varitasium video (Bill's link) indirectly points to, but it doesn't get there.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Hulk
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Geeze Louise-I gotta read it, hear it (even just myself saying it out loud), see it, & touch it!! Using all the tools in the tool box seems to be the best way for me to have even a miniscule chance at understanding pertinent info, let alone sustaining retention and the ability to convey the same info to someone else! What I have noticed is that while I self-perceive being fairly dependent on having to use all of the various learning styles & brain processing modes, the emphasis on (or reliance upon) one over another seems to clearly shift with the aging of Self. Not that it particularly matters-but it is kind of interesting that these days I am conscious that the need for tactile intake, for example, is superseding the need for the written word, (or images vs. an audio lesson)  when I am approaching whatever it is I am trying to learn & apply.  With clay I have noticed that I'm beginning to do a sort of juggling act of all of these elements in order to end up with a piece that works for me, and I did not use to "have to" go down that rabbit hole-the end result just came more "naturally", I think.

8 hours ago, Hulk said:

folk don't all learn the same ways

 

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4 hours ago, Hulk said:

which actually clearly and convincingly support that folks learn differently (note that the focus isn't on overly simplistic see/hear/feel).

I agree and folks learn all ways and those who research perceived preferences cannot correlate the perception with reality. There is a lot of education theory research out there …….. and then again maybe a good demonstration is just that or a well written piece is just that and of course the broader your vocabulary the more you are able to internalize and think about things for which if not, your brain simply has no way to begin sensibly comprehending  it, therefore little to no productive thought. Anyway, having taught for 20 years adjunct at the junior college level, I am convinced folks learn all ways at different times  and at all times. VARK always seemed too simple to me as well as 4MAT and the challenge as a teacher was to:  try everything to help an individual learn, try different things, make good drawings, good lectures, good demonstrations, repeat, and try something different as well.

Anyway what do I know, my vocabulary / native language has too many prepositions, is too descriptive ……then again it does spark some vivid thought.  Thinking in secondary languages doesn’t seem productive but it does allow me to convey things on occasion. As a teacher the trick for me  is can I relate that to my students in a productive way? in a way that they can learn it best on any given day? More about solving how to be effective at teaching  ………. and of course my feeling since I was born: I try and use all ways to learn. Different and of course the same at different times in my life.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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4 hours ago, Hulk said:

which actually clearly and convincingly support that folks learn differently (note that the focus isn't on overly simplistic see/hear/feel).

I like the paper, but yet another “system” to beat all systems based on some great foundational stuff and some terrible foundational stuff. I am for expanding the potential toolbox as long as other tools do not become eliminated. If the perception of 4MAT limits scope, direction, effort  or reduces trial and error for teachers the system becomes a limit IMO.

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I noticed a few things about both the video and the article. The video isn’t testing for concept understanding, analytical thinking or critical thinking: it’s testing for memorization of information. Also, because of the incredibly short test duration, he’s really only testing working memory and not whether or not the information makes it into long-term storage. He’s really not kidding when he says it’s not scientific!

The paper IS indeed somewhat dated, but it is more focused on understanding as an outcome, rather than memorization of facts. Especially when it comes to clay, you can’t just memorize your way into being able to work with it. We need a more understanding and problem solving based approach, which this article is moving towards and advocating for. The ideas in this paper have since  been either heavily expanded upon (using multiple teaching methods like “new math,” skip counting, AND using physical manipulatives instead of just memorizing an algorithmic method and multiplication tables),  or debunked (left brain vs right brain thinking: we all use both halves equally, but how they talk to each other is significant).

Neither video or paper takes into account things like neurodivergencies such as ADHD or auditory processing disorder, or learning disabilities like dyslexia, dyspraxia, discalculia, etc.etc. It’s interesting to note that a lot of learning modalities that have often been reserved for these groups can be of great value to neurotypical people as well. 

 

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15 minutes ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

Neither video or paper takes into account things like neurodivergencies such as ADHD or auditory processing disorder, or learning disabilities like dyslexia, dyspraxia, discalculia, etc.etc. It’s interesting to note that a lot of learning modalities that have often been reserved for these groups can be of great value to neurotypical people as well

Really good points I think! The video only seeks to point out that those who research cannot correlate what many perceive to be. How did we ever get to accepting this - worldwide?

I never sold memory short though, to me it can be a tool.  Often I would start a class with a segment that made me memorize some ridiculous list of 30 random things in a couple of minutes. Then throughout the semester someone could test me randomly by number or object at any point in any class.

My point was it’s just a tool,  if I could learn it, anyone could. Learn it and use  it as you may, there are simple methods to improve memorizing lists etc…… maybe short term  but  to this day can recite most of those lists, 20 years later. I would then show them a simple peg word method etc……. And mention it can help you learn things more easily. There are several successful memory techniques, Just another tool to use if you choose to …. Use all your tools don’t get locked into one perception.

Anything that expands our understanding is a plus for me so I am interested in the research. Anything that limits approaches as “the” method or “the” approach I respect but am skeptical. I never want folks to perceive they are not capable …… as in I am a bad reader, I can’t visualize, etc..…….. too much I can’t. Most folks can, not all can motivate themselves to do so though. Adding I can’t, often provides a convenience for therefore I won’t try.

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Over the years, I have found, especially when dealing with adults that there is a certain amount of frustration and fear level that short circuits the learning process when working with clay. Comfort zones form a large amount of resistance when dealing with adults fearful of not trying a new thing, or afraid of being inept in front of others. Forgiveness sake folks, face your fears and jump into new experiences to find out what you like or don't like. 

On the other end of this discussion is the formation of bad habit, and how to correct those bad habits. These include simple things that can be corrected temporarily with coaching. Bending your elbows and trying to power center the clay in such a manner, opening up off center because you don't brace the opening hand, getting one of the other hands out of time with the other when pulling, not applying enough pressure in the beginning of the pull to thin the bottom, ripping the clay with too fast a wheel speed, or even milking the top of the pot to gain extra height at the expense of thin walls and a sharp lip. I find that often it takes not one or two times to correct these things, but several times until the student understands innately what works.

It  is especially hard to coach a student that learned poorly in the beginning: A student I had in an adult class was all excited to work on the wheel after watching videos one summer and going to a local center at night to practice. They could throw smaller pieces, and do reasonably with mugs, dishes and other small cylinders. However, they could not get any higher. Seems they watched Eastern potters throwing, thus clockwise motion. Our wheels at the time were not reversible, and I coached them to move to the other side. They would work that way for a while, but always revert to centering pressure on rt side even though I had shown them how much more power they had when the clay turned into the palm of the brace hand. Tough to correct, but after two years they started throwing Western style.

When you talk about modalities of learning, I believe you have to develop a strong foundation of basic fact to build on. Then you can understand things like alternative throwing positions, or use of ribs vs hands, and so many other simple tricks that understanding process makes the trick easier to use.

 

Good discussion here. . . 

All in MHO

best,

Pres

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Pres -  how interesting!  

I am not a teacher.  I have been throwing 1.5 lbs to 2 lbs for the last 4 years.  However, weekly only for 1 year.  I have done porcelain, red clay, and grey clay and my biggest challenge:  dark granite clay.  I didn't realize that clay has so many properties.  I went to fall classes to our local rec centre and we used the same clay I don't even know the name.  At the rec centre, the interst is for you to have a good time. 

In my case, with Covid and access to a great studio, I am now curious and challenged by all sorts of things.  Things I didn't know existed or need to be considered. For me,  your post then, is very very on point.   

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