Element 6:

Reasons for Learning Failure in the 21st Century

“Not recognizing that the system itself is root of our learning problems, we try to increase positive outcomes by pushing a broken system even harder.” – JW Wilson, Advanced Learning Institute

To develop successful personal and institutional learning systems without first having a deep understanding of the Learning Code, leads to failure.

Consider these disturbing bits of information:

  • Over 90 percent of us are dissatisfied with our ability to learn and remember.
  • Twelve weeks after the average corporate training session, most participants forget 85 percent of the information delivered.
  • Nearly 50 percent of all students in Chicago, Baltimore, Cleveland and other major cities drop out of school before graduating.
  • Thirty-three percent of New York City’s elementary students are functionally illiterate.
  • In national tests, in many sections of the country approximately 70 percent of eighth graders fail to achieve proficiency in math and reading.

Things have gotten so bad that the former U.S. secretary of labor lamented that more than half of all young people “leave school without the knowledge or foundations required to find and hold a good job.”

In addition, as we will see in more detail on this web site, research shows that, contrary to popular belief, even those of us who do well within the existing educational system and receive academic accolades do no better in the real world than those of us who do poorly. Those who get good grades, high class positions, and high SAT and IQ scores, and who graduate as valedictorians are ensured of nothing in life except a document that proves they did well on pen-and-paper tests in school. Unfortunately, we are finding that the skills necessary to succeed in the classroom are not necessarily the skills needed to succeed in life in the real world. (See “What Is Intelligence?” and “Why Experience Beats Linguistic Learning Every Time.”) Also consider that most of us are in what one researcher calls “information shock,” that is, we are bombarded with much more information than we are able to assimilate. It is now becoming clearer than ever that our existing learning systems, which have little scientific basis, are not producing the results we expect and demand.

Read on to learn more about the reasons for learning failure

Ancient Learning Theory

What are the reasons for this failure? It is because the knowledge we are applying to create learning and long-term memory today is based, not on the modern sciences like genetics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, quantum physics, and complexity science, but instead on what I call Ancient Learning Theory. This theory has its basis in the science and philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Isaac Newton, John Locke, and the school of psychology called behaviorism.

goldbox[1]Ancient Learning Theory has prompted us to develop a scholastic educational system that relies almost exclusively on linguistic instruction, locking learners up in small boxes (50-by-50 foot classrooms), far from the real world, and at a time when our brains are going through their most explosive growth period. It’s a system that devalues our emotions and what is meaningful to us while treating us like machine parts on a conveyer belt, shuffling us in and out of 13,000 45-minute “get ready for the test” segments over our school life. For 12 years, reward and punishment are the primary means of motivation used to get us to memorize 30,000 to 50,000 decontextualized, personally meaningless details, most of which are quickly forgotten. Scholastic learning systems don’t have exclusive providence of Ancient Learning Theory; it also drives the “lock ’em in a box and lecture to ’em” training programs that most corporate and government learning systems rely upon.

Ancient Learning Theory depends heavily on what Ivan Barzakov of Optimalearning called “the fallacy of the familiar.” That is, the theories of learning that we use today are virtually the same used by the generation before us, which is the same used by the generation before them, which is same as the generation before them, et cetera, et cetera, going back 2,400 years to the time of the Greeks. Ancient Learning Theory allows us to accept the bizarre concept that intelligence is represented not by how happy and successful you are, but instead by your score on pen-and-paper tests, which we now find only predicts how well you will do in the classroom, not how well you will do in the real world.

In the book Cracking the Learning Code and in future newsletters you will discover:

That today’s information doubling rate is rendering Ancient Learning Theory obsolete.

That, in the 21st century, all the information that exists in the world is estimated to be doubling at the incredible rate of once every 18 months!

That Ancient Learning Theory was created over 2,400 years ago when the information doubling rate was approximately once every thousand years.

That today’s extraordinarily fast rate of information doubling places us squarely in what management guru Peter Drucker calls the Knowledge Society. This is a world where knowledge has become your most precious asset, and your ability to have a successful life is directly tied to the speed at which you acquire it.

How our reliance on faulty science has supported our continued dependence upon Ancient Learning Theory.

How the perspective of the systems sciences, which seek to understand interconnectedness, complexity, and wholeness of system components in specific relationship to each other, was used to uncover the Learning Code.

How learning systems cause their own failure.

How the harder you push an inefficient system (like our schools), the more profound the inefficiencies.

How our failure to acknowledge that the structure of the educational system itself is the cause of its own dysfunction results in teachers, administrators, parents, trainers, and students becoming scapegoats for a system failure.

To help you understand more about our reliance on Ancient Learning Theory, click on other Elements:

What Is Intelligence?

What Is the Learning Code?

The Drawbacks of Species Learning: Why Organisms Need Faster Ways to Learn

What Is Species Learning?

Reasons for Learning Failure in the 21st Century

We Learn Through Selection Not Instruction

Six and a Half Billion Intelligences – Not One

The 11 Biological Intelligences

The Environment Is Everything to Increasing Your Adaptability / Intelligence Factor

Meaning – the Holy Grail of Learning

Why Experience Beats Linguistic Learning Every Time