The Nature of Learning or The Importance of Disequilibrium
Are you afraid to study Bahasa Indonesia because you’ve had no experience with a foreign language?
Are you a current student feeling discouraged by your seeming lack of language ability?
PERFECT! THAT’S JUST WHERE YOU WANT TO BE!
When we’re born, we find ourselves in a constant state of disequilibrium – a constant state of “confusion” and “not knowing.” Our brain is an “empty vessel” and we have no information to help us interpret what’s going on around us.
We can’t make sense of the cars rushing by us on the road, nor the dogs barking in the park, nor the flames coming from the kitchen stovetop. Everything is an utter mystery to us, and we cling tightly to our mothers for protection.
But as we grow older, we strive to resolve each mystery that presented itself, so that we can eventually begin to operate independently. This is an instinctive behaviour that comes naturally to us.
As the Swiss child development theorist, Jean Piaget explained . . .
Learning can only occur when we find ourselves in a state of disequilibrium – a state of “imbalance” and “not knowing.”
Learning is the process of resolving that disequilibrium and achieving equilibrium – a state of “balance” and “knowing.”
Sadly, when we grow into fully-functioning adults, we often forget this basic truth, and, as a result, all learning stops!
Too many of us become happy operating in our “safe zone” and begin to avoid situations which are unfamiliar to us; we don’t want to encounter new stimuli that will throw us into a state of disequilibrium. We spent many years trying to achieve a sense of balance, and we don’t like to see that balance confronted.
Disequilibrium (also known as cognitive dissonance) is not a very comfortable state to be in. It can feel frustrating and challenging. It can cause fear, anxiety, and even panic. However, Disequilibrium is necessary for true learning to take place.
If we never encounter anything that challenges our current ways of thinking or knowing, then we never move forward. We never get smarter, more adept, more diverse, more eclectic. In short: ALL LEARNING STOPS!
If you’re a prospective language student who’s been putting off language study for fear that you have no natural talent or that your lessons will end in failure . . .
If you’re a current language student who’s become discouraged by your seemingly-slow progress and/or frustrated by the level of work involved in developing your language skills . . .
It’s time you start thinking about disequilibrium and how important it is to your language learning.
It’s essential that you choose to toss myself into a situation in which the whole point is to feel disequilibrium.
You need to throw yourself as much off-balance as you possibly can, and learn like a child again!!!
The inevitable result: you’ll learn more than you ever imagined possible.
Selamat belajar, happy studying.