It is said that learning breeds future success, and learning is there to benefit subsequent performance, but does it really prepare for future events? The school system thinks so. Investment in learning is a guarantee for achievement later in life, so runs the claim. It may be so in general but, actually, later in life, do you still use or apply what you learned some time ago? – Only bits and pieces probably, while most is gone or in oblivion. What you learn tends to be forgotten – that is a fact of life. This is not to say that all learning is futile, vanity, or worthless. What then is the true nature of learning? – without false promises. It could very well be that the gain from learning effort could just be specific and particular (1).
Consider a setting in which you have to learn, acquire something yourself, a skill of some sort, say a certain teaching skill, let us assume self-monitoring, and then have to teach others to acquire that skill as well , say your students. What would yield your learning? Precise prompts on how you are doing, i.e., specific feedback on the steps you take or more generic, overall hints on how you are doing? And what about trickle down effects on your students? Would they be helped with specific or common suggestions? And what about effects later on, after a while, say a few months later – what would remain from your learning effort?
A study in a teacher education setting looked into this and indicated that what was kept is what was specifically prompted and even then the gain was likely to be lost later on. We simply cannot assume that what is learned stays; certainly not when only loosely stimulated.
May be for this reason learning needs repetition (2), going over it again and again – Think of learning a foreign language, or practicing a music piece. This will give a new meaning to the phrase” There is a lot to learn’
Bracha Kramarski &Zehavit Kohen (2017). Promoting preservice teachers’ dual self-regulation roles as learners and as teachers: effects of generic vs. specific prompts Metacognition and Learning August 2017, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 157–191