Apr 172013

Are there different approaches to learning? Of course. Here in the US of A, that’d be most obviously public vs private schools, and then there are homeschoolers and Montessori schools. Plus, there’s different ways of learning in different cultures, as aptly outlined in this op-ed by David Brooks The Learning Virtues –

In the Western understanding, students come to school with levels of innate intelligence and curiosity. Teachers try to further arouse that curiosity in specific subjects. There’s a lot of active learning — going on field trips, building things. There’s great emphasis on questioning authority, critical inquiry and sharing ideas in classroom discussion.

In the Chinese understanding, there’s less emphasis on innate curiosity or even on specific subject matter. Instead, the learning process itself is the crucial thing. The idea is to perfect the learning virtues in order to become, ultimately, a sage, which is equally a moral and intellectual state. These virtues include: sincerity (an authentic commitment to the task) as well as diligence, perseverance, concentration and respect for teachers.