At the recent Learning Difference Convention, Bernadette McLean discussed effective learning skills. F2L reports on some key aspects of her presentation.

McLean, principal of the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre in the UK, emphasised the importance of self-esteem and self-motivation when it came to thinking and learning skills. Self-esteem is learned not inherited, she said, and affects all thinking and behaviour as well as impacting on learning and performance. “It can be built and developed with interventions which disrupt the downward cycle of limiting beliefs and negative self-talk. When self-esteem is low in teachers it will be communicated to learners consciously and unconsciously.”

In her presentation McLean mentioned the obstacles to learning which are worth repeating: passivity, impulsivity, episodic grasp of reality and language.

McLean said worthwhile learning is always complex, can take different forms, is always influenced by context and results mainly from interaction. She said while it may differ from individual to individual, worthwhile learning often needs to be mediated and is a life-long process. “It is emotional as well as cognitive and closely related to how the learner feels about themselves.”

However, there were words of caution: “What is learnt can be wrong and may have to be unlearnt.” McLean went on: “learning can be affected by learning styles, motivation, levels of persistence, taking responsibility for learning, responsiveness to feedback and self-esteem.” “Goals have to be realistic and manageable,” she said.

McLean ended her session with a quote from Emerson: “Nothing great is ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

For more information visit: www.arkellcentre.org.au