Situative Learning: Development in Response to Changing Environments

Situative Learning: Development in Response to Changing Environments

November 21, 2019 26 By Stanley Isaacs


Context forms the setting for an event, statement or idea and in terms of which it can be fully understood. In this context some educators also speak of situated learning. They assume that there is no learning per se. All there is, is us changing in response to the situation around us. Once a situation changes then our thinking changes. New neural connections are created and we learn. Consider the following situation. A man is sitting alone in the restaurant and orders a salad, two pizzas and a big bottle of water. What do you think we are learning about this man in this very moment? Once we add some context we learn something new. Without context our understanding is limited. We misinterpret information and draw false conclusions. For example, we can present a statistic or a company’s share price in a way that makes it look great. Once we add context by looking at a longer time horizon or comparing the development to a benchmark we see the big picture and understand what’s really going on. Context also allows us to gain a deeper understanding of a subject matter. The Russian ruler Stalin once said, “When one man dies it’s a tragedy. When thousands die, it’s Statistics”. He had a point. To really understand something we cannot just look at facts and figures. We have to zoom in and look at personal stories. Then we understand the true sad nature of war, how it affects the soldier his wife their children and maybe an entire generation to come. Context also matters when we learn languages. For example, if you learn German and you try to remember the word “mag” which means to like something in English, you can learn it with a sentence. Such as “mama mag kokusnuss” which means mum likes coconut. When we learn new words in a sentence we give it context and your brain can link the new word to memories of your mother and an experience with a coconut. Then a new mental image is created, which can be stored or re-imagined. In schools, context is often absent. We learn about trees in books instead of exploring the woods. We learn about our feelings and behaviors from psychology books instead of in person and we learn about Maths in theory instead of applying it to the real world. We miss the opportunity to connect theory with practice or plain information with personal memories Situations are not changed. Learning does not happen. Memories are not created and we stay pretty stupid. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk predicted that “Context” is the new king of business. Use technology to provide a solution right when people need help. Sold. If we are in the business of telling stories or explaining complicated things, we can do the same. When our information gets to a student at the exact moment when they most need it, it changes the entire situation. They react to the new circumstances get excited and actually learn!