Sunday, August 14, 2011

Concrete and Abstract Learning


All of us learn in different ways, but there are two principle systems of learning: Concrete and Abstract.

Concrete learning is done through practical means within tangible, real situations; for example, if I bump my head on the corner of an open cupboard door I get hurt, and I very quickly learn not to do it again. In future when I’m near a cupboard door I visually check it to ascertain if it is open.

Abstract learning is an intellectual process that does not require tactile or practical situations to bring it about. One can learn through the experiences of others by what they say, write or do. I learnt from a brother that it is not good to smoke, because smoking is injurious to physical health. He explained how lungs are clogged with carbon deposits and that nicotine poisons the body. People who smoke are more likely to have cancer of the lungs, etc. Consequently, by simple logic, I decided not to smoke.

Job when almost done

When set, concrete is a solid material; with age it hardens and generally becomes stronger. I learnt about the strength of concrete when I tried demolishing a concrete path running the full length of my back garden. I had to strike the material repeatedly with a sledgehammer before minute cracks appeared. More percussion had the effect of making the cracks wider and longer, until eventually lumps of concrete parted from one another. After transferring several pieces to a wheelbarrow I learnt how very heavy the substance was.

Fortuitously, my son-in-law was to hand, and he volunteered to help; in fact, he practically demolished the whole garden path and transported the pieces on a wheelbarrow to a skip strategically placed at the entrance of the front driveway.

He learnt two lessons: never volunteer, and do no be around when there’s a big job that needs doing. No, that’s not fair or true, because he’s a great guy who will willingly help when assistance is required, and he actually enjoys labouring.


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