Our supportive learning environment promotes each student’s individuality. At Compass High School, our curriculum is adapted from Art Comb’s Six Principles of Learning.
People learn best when they have a need to know.
People learn best when they have a need to know. Of all the things we know about learning, this fact is probably most basic. It is also often overlooked. We expect students to need to know what we want to teach them – or if they don’t they should! Rarely do we make much effort to discover student needs and relate teaching to them. The genius of good teaching lies not in providing information but in helping students to discover needs to know they never had before.
Learning is a deeply personal, affective experience.
Learning is a deeply personal, affective experience. Modern brain research tells us our brains are not switchboards or computers, but marvelous organs for the discovery of personal meaning, otherwise known as learning. The basic principle of learning from a perceptual orientation is this: Any information will affect a person’s behavior only in the degree to which he or she discovers the personal meaning of information to the self. This is a matter of personal perception and discovery. It is also an affective experience.
Emotion is an indicator of the degree to which any experience is personally meaningful. The more personally meaningful, the greater the degree of emotion or feeling experienced and the more profoundly behavior is affected. What is learned without personal meaning or feeling is unlikely to have much effect upon behavior.
All behavior, including learning, involves self-concept.
All behavior, including learning, involves self-concept. What people believe about themselves affects their every behavior. The importance of the self-concept in human growth, learning, and health is one of the most significant discoveries of modern psychology. How people relate to any experience, including schooling, is inevitably determined in large part by what they believe about themselves.
People who believe they can try; people who don’t, avoid the experience or defend themselves against it. The self-concept is learned from all one’s experiences, including schooling. What a student learns about self in the classroom, moreover, may be far more important to growth and development than the subject matter with which he or she is confronted.
Learning is governed by the experience of challenge or threat.
Learning is governed by the experience of challenge or threat. People feel challenged when they are confronted with problems of interest to them and which they believe they have a chance of coping with. They feel threatened by problems they do not feel able to handle. The experience of threat is destructive to most learning, while challenge enhances it. Whether students feel challenged or threatened by teaching experiences, however, lies not in the teacher’s conceptions, but in the eye of the beholder.
Feelings of being cared for and belonging have vital effects upon learning.
Feelings of being cared for and belonging have vital effects upon learning. People who feel they are cared for and belong are likely to be excited, interested, motivated, want to get involved. People who feel rejected or alienated are likely to be turned off, discouraged, humiliated, disillusioned, apathetic, and seek to escape from the scene or to attack the insiders. After all, if you do not feel you belong to the club, there is no reason to pay your dues or look out for the other members!
Effective learning requires feedback.
Effective learning requires feedback. To be truly helpful, feedback should be:
- personal rather than comparative
- related directly to performance &
- should point the way to next steps.
Note that none of these are accomplished by the grading system.