lws, learning, science, explanated

How Does Science Explain the Learning Process?

Many were the Greek philosophers who wrote about how learning happens. Teaching through dialogue, contact with nature, or learning about kindness and accessing the mind of God were some of the ways that western culture started to write about the learning process. Among men, and among these men of a privileged group, most of the wise professors of ethics and natural sciences were elected.

Oriental culture has its symbologies, but we will leave the access to this knowledge for a future conversation, distant and no less important than that of learning from the West.

For many years our science, and therefore our education, was bequeathed to Christian culture. There were many centuries in which learning was placed vertically and the teacher represented enlightened knowledge and the student the absence of light. The apprentice is born as a blank sheet ready to be filled in, or remembered.

Thus, centuries passed until the Enlightenment began to discuss the order of things, society, knowledge, and the power structures that knowledge can imprint on society.

Seeking an impartial and scientific view, we jump to the present day and will soon think together, here, at learnwithscience, how today’s science explains the learning process.

There are many strands that provide answers to our question, but whether it’s education or psychology, neuroscience or philosophy, some questions seem to constitute common sense among specialists.

First, since Piaget and Vygotsky, we understand that education happens from a young age, we are born and start, like sponges, to absorb the world around us. With Piaget and his Genetic Epistemology, we learn that we capture knowledge through our senses and the smell of the crib, as well as the music of the old radio in the kitchen, present us with elements, information, data, which will be associated and accommodated continuously.

Vygotsky, born in the same year as Piaget (1896), brought the emphasis on learning a symbolic language, to the signs that mediate our relationship with reality. We connect words to things through a culturally given symbolic system, through learning. However, as the author describes in one of his most important theoretical questions, we need to study those who learn, pay attention to their particularities, identify what they already know and then bring knowledge closer to their potential for knowing. What we say in a simple way is called by Vygotsky the Zone of Proximal Development and helps us to think of learning strategies that approach the student’s reality.

In addition to the classics, there were many theorists who contributed to Education today, from Carl Rogers and Jerome Bruner, for example. Through different theories, we see a process of increasing awareness in the learning process, whether in treating the other as different, and therefore, using difference as the foundation of an always plural and multicultural approach, accepting knowledge as broad and diverse and constructed, in the dialectic between subjects, whether understanding education as a form of social action.

We in learnwithscience believe that we act when we learn a new language when we enter into another symbolic system, and in it we interact and learn new ways of being, feeling, and expressing ourselves.

Learn and grow together, always! To the next!


DE VRIES, Rheta. Vygotsky, Piaget, and Education: Reciprocal Assimilation of Theories and Educational Practices, New Ideas in Psychology, Volume 18, Issues 2–3, 2000, Pages 187-213.