Personalization is affecting just about every aspect of life and the very same has started to apply (luckily) to education. More and more academics and policy makers are finding out that there’s no mould, no one-fits-all solution. As a result, multiple approaches have begun emerging in the field. Slow learning is one of them.
The term “slow” has long carried negative connotations in the world of education. Luckily, things are about to change. With an emphasis on personal talents and deep knowledge, slow learning is gaining prominence.
What is Slow Learning?
Slow education was initially conceptualized in 1989. For more than 25 years, this movement has been trying to make its way in a world that’s obsessed with speed and having everything completed in the shortest possible period of time.
Slow learning isn’t about adopting the most sluggish approach towards education. It’s about enabling learning at a speed that the student is comfortable with. Education can’t be homogenized, giving students the same amount of time to acquire highly complex skills in a range of disciplines. It takes into consideration the acquisition of real knowledge. For some kids the process can be fast, for others it may lag on. Education, in essence, is messy and there’s no universal formula. This is what slow learning happens to be all about.
Slow Education in a World That’s All about Speed
Go back to your school years and you’ll start to see how slow learning makes sense.
I did the very same experiment and here are some of the conclusions that I’ve reached. For me, English, geography and history were subjects that led to instant success. I didn’t need time to master new concepts and acquire skills. Math and physics, on the other hand, had me in tears more than once.
My sister, who shared the same grade and the same classroom, had a completely different experience. Her scientific mind couldn’t fathom why a math problem that she found simple took me weeks to complete. She, however, couldn’t produce a quick academic essay or a history report, even if her life depended on it.
We live in a fast-paced world and education is heavily affected by the fast speed at which everything’s supposed to unfold.
Learning has to be a highly efficient process. In order for this to happen, students are given tight deadlines and rigorous concepts. There’s no room for creativity, no room for experimentation or messy learning. Remember Pink Floyd and the video for Another Brick in the Wall? Things haven’t changed much in the world of education. The system is as homogenized as ever. The outcome? Frustrations, educational deficiencies and no emphasis on the skills or the individual talents that students possess.
Slow Schools, Slow Education – Giving Kids Knowledge for Life?
The slow education movement may be seen as a social phenomenon that arose for the urgency and immediacy of everything that we do. In fact, the slow movement in general is precisely such a phenomenon. Think about slow food, slow living and even slow travels. These are all concepts that teach people to take a break, look around, take their surroundings in and learn to enjoy life at least a little bit more.
These core concepts are also in the heart and soul of slow schools.
Slow education builds “connections” and ties to knowledge. It doesn’t rush through complex concepts simply because these are a part of a curriculum. It focuses on what’s important in life, what children are going to need and rely on in the long run.
Through slow learning, children develop values and ethics. They acquire practical skills that are tied to our everyday existence. What’s even more important, the parents and extended family remain actively involved in the educational process. The disconnect between the family and the academic institution is eliminated, which leads to more pleasant and productive experiences for everyone involved.
Students aren’t given large volumes of information that they simply have to memorize without understanding. Kids are given a chance to sit down, explore a concept and come up with the best way to learn the subject matter. It’s a system of knowledge acquisition that gives children a wide array of additional skills that go beyond the traditional academic experiences we’ve all had in our youth.
Slow is Already Here
Though some people see the slow movement as something too abstract and difficult to apply to standard education, some schools are already doing an excellent job when it comes to adopting the philosophy. Millfield Primary School in the UK is just one example.
The school puts heavy emphasis on outdoor activities, group discussions and giving children enough time to enjoy the schoolday. The school has worked hard to give staff the tools needed to promote slow learning. This is a serious issue since most teachers and instructors have received the same education. They worry about breaking the mold and giving kids the freedom. School administrators like the leaders at Millfield, however, are giving both educators and children the tools that they require to make a change.
The number of parents that want a personalized educational experience is growing all of the time. As a result, movements like slow education will continue gaining followers in the years to come. Standardized curricula aren’t doing students any good. Talent encouragement, on the other hand, is. Making the change will certainly be difficult and it will require time. Hopefully, however, in a few years concepts like “slow” having negative connotations will be a thing of the past.
Editors Note: I’d not heard of Slow Learning methods until Alicia proposed this article to me. In this fast-paced technological world sometimes it’s important to take a step back and realise that we don’t always need to cram everything in our brains at a fast pace and can instead take our time to fully understand what we’re taking on. Here’s a few more bits of information on Slow Learning techniques
- What is Slow Learning?
- Are You Ready to Join the Slow Education Movement?
- Impact International – Learning To Pause
Maybe it’s time to think about how we look at learning and change the way we do things.