Subba’s Serendipitous moments

January 14, 2007

The education and learning approaches

Filed under: Education,Learning — Subbaraman Iyer @ 1:54 pm

The Education paradigm emphasizes acquiring a body of knowledge, “right” information, once and for all.

The Learning paradigm emphasizes on learning how to learn, how to ask good questions, pay attention to the right things, be open to evaluating new concepts and having access to information. It emphasizes the importance of context.

The Education approach is to treat learning as a product, a destination;  and the learning approach is to treat learning  as a process or a journey

The Education approach consists of a relatively rigid structure and a standard   curriculum and a prescribed approach to teach, whereas the learning approach consists of a relatively flexible curriculum and belief that there are many different was to teach a given subject.

The Education approach is often hierarchical and has an authoritarian structure. It rewards conformity and discourages dissent. The learning approach is egalitarian. Candour and dissent is permitted. Students and teachers see each other as people, not roles.

The primary priority in the education approach is on performance, whereas in the learning approach, the priority is on self-image as the generator of performance.

The Education approach emphasizes the external world. The inner experience is often considered inappropriate in the school setting. On the other hand, the Learning approach sees the inner experience as providing the context for learning. Through use of imagery, story telling, journals, exploration of feelings is often encouraged.

The Education approach downplays the importance of guessing and divergent thinking, while the learning approach encourages them as part of the creative process.

The Education approach often emphasizes the analytical, left brained and linear thinking. The Learning approach strives for the whole brain education. It augments the left brain rationality with holistic, non-linear and intuitive strategies. The confluence and fusion of the two processes are emphasized.

The Education approach resorts to labeling ( remedial, gifted etc. especially in Singapore) and this contributes to a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the learning approach, labelling is used only in a minor prescriptive roles and not as a fixed evaluation that  dogs the  individual’s educational career.

The Education approach is overly concerned about norms. In the learning approach, the concern is with the individual’s performance in terms of potential. It actively tries to test outer limits and transcending perceived limitations.

The primary reliance in the Educational approach is on theoretical, abstract or “book knowledge”, whereas the in the learning approach the theoretical knowledge is heavily complemented by experiment and experience both in and out of the classroom.

The Educational approach is often bureaucratically determined, resistant to community inputs; whereas the Learning approach encourages community inputs, even community control.

The Educational approach seems to be increasing its reliance on technology ( computers, software, standard CBT models) whereas the learning approach uses only appropriate technology  and the human relationships between teachers and learners is of primary importance.

In the educational approach, the teacher imparts knowledge; it is a one way street. In the learning approach, the teacher is a learner too,  learning from students.

Finally, in the Education paradigm, it is seen as a social necessity for a certain period to inculcate minimum skills and train them for a specific role. In the learning paradigm, education is seen as a life long process and one that is only tangentially related to schools.


  1. This is great! I just added this to the end of my post:
    I also added it to my account, AND ‘Serendipitous moments’ had been added to my feed reader, (I’ve enjoyed every post I’ve read so far)! Thanks so much for contributing to my learning:-)


    Comment by datruss — January 17, 2007 @ 8:57 am | Reply

  2. Everyone is different and what is easy for some is hard for others. Memorization of facts like the United States and Capitals can be a challenge for right brained learners but it doesn’t have to be. I have created a new study aid packaged as a deck of 50 flash cards with whimsical illustrations that help trigger the memory of the visual learner. Most teaching methods and tests are geared toward the left brained but the picture association method my flash cards use is an alternative way to memorize that can help level the playing field. I invite you to visit the Right Brained Learner website to check it out!


    Comment by Michael — February 1, 2007 @ 5:05 am | Reply

  3. […] But I’ve written time & again & again about that. Worthy of mentioning as well is Subbaraman Iyer’s post that looks at the Educational Approach vs the Learning […]

    Pingback by David Truss :: Pair-a-dimes for Your Thoughts » Blog Archive » Shifting Learning — March 27, 2010 @ 4:51 pm | Reply

  4. […] often noticed that pull based thinkers are natural performers as they constantly attempt to pull new information, concepts and thinking into something meaningful to them. All that is needed is persistence, the willingness to experiment and occasionally fail and […]

    Pingback by The push and pull models – Not business models, but a mindset! « Subba’s Serendipitous moments — April 26, 2010 @ 6:08 pm | Reply

  5. […] often noticed that pull based thinkers are natural performers as they constantly attempt to pull new information, concepts and thinking into something meaningful to them. All that is needed is persistence, the willingness to experiment and occasionally fail and […]

    Pingback by The push and pull models – Not business models, but a mindset! | Expanding Thought — June 28, 2011 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

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    Comment by Go Here — December 3, 2012 @ 3:14 am | Reply

  7. Reblogged this on word9674 and commented:
    This article definitely makes you think of the differences between educational and learning approach. We have to keep in mind that one shoe does not fit everyone! It is the same for our students. If we notice our students are not learning the way we teach, we should find a way to change it in order for them to learn better…

    Comment by Pelayom6 — February 7, 2016 @ 8:41 am | Reply

  8. […] responsibility of the learner! Other influences to this post include Subbaraman Iyer’s “The education and learning approaches” and Jennifer Dalby’s “Down in […]

    Pingback by Why Open Matters #OpenEdMOOC | Daily-Ink & Pair-a-dimes un-post-ed — October 10, 2017 @ 2:58 pm | Reply

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