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Evolution of Learning

There are several sources of knowledge, many methods of learning and a lot of ways through which one can gain higher skill and proficiency in something he desires to master. For best results, one should combine more than one learning method and knowledge source in an upward spiral to reach mastery of something. The ration between such sources of knowledge and methods of learning has changed with time in the jigsaw of learning methods and each of these methods has just evolved and its role has changed.

Learning During Prehistory

Learning through observation was king in the distant past. Man observed animals and learned from them and used them as a primary source of knowledge. And so did he learn from nature by observing it. He then went a step further and started learning also through trial and error which in an advanced form of it led to experimentation upon which science was base later on. Knowledge gained through observation and trial and error and skills gained through imitation (of animals?) in addition to the human thinking faculty which digested all that and created new bodies of knowledge out of it resulted in a more skilled and more knowledgeable man. Teaching came after that as a further method for learning. Those who gained skill and knowledge taught others consciously or unconsciously.

Storing Knowledge 

As time progressed, those who have gained knowledge through various means have started to 'store' their knowledge by writing it down to be passed to near and distant generations to come. Written knowledge and wisdom became a new source of transferring knowledge and was a stable and solid method by which to build wide and large bodies of complex knowledge that grew and evolved with time. Books became an amazing source of storying, transferring and gaining knowledge.

Other methods for storing, transferring and spreading knowledge started to show up such as cassette tapes and videotapes and later on computers. As the Internet started to spread digesting all those technologies together (written text, audio and video) and adding to them instant access and sharing, the role of the various learning methods has changed dramatically.

From Teachers to Trainers

In the past, for instance, a teacher would transfer knowledge from his brain directly to his students. The teacher was fundamentally a medium for storing and transferring knowledge. As sources of knowledge evolved and became more widespread and easy to access (like the Internet), that old role of the teacher became obsolete. Today's trainer has a dramatically different role, no longer is he entrusted with the duty of storing and transferring knowledge, but rather the role of the trainer today is to motivate and guide trainees helping them learn by exercising, looking for information, creating things with what they are learning and learning even by having fun.

Some (many?) teachers are still stuck in the ancient role of the teacher as a transferor of knowledge which makes his teaching extremely boring and inefficient to today's Internet-plugged youth. Such teacher should not blame his students for not wanting to listen to what he is saying and getting extra bored from his lectures and lessons but rather he should blame nobody other than his own self. In order to be effective and be able to fit in today's culture such person must make the transition from teacher to trainer.

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