What is the syllabus for learning to be a good parent? Just do it and learn!

This is fragment of an excellent article given as a reading on the CCK09 course by Renata Phelps:

The authentic and complex, but highly naturalistic nature of Web-based learning was introduced to students through the analogy of becoming a parent, as follows:

… think about how we learn in contexts other than schools and universities. Lets think about one of the biggest challenges people experience in life – becoming a parent… There is no single course you can do on ‘how to become a good parent’. There is no single set of steps or guidelines or rules to follow. There is no ‘beginning’ or ‘end’, no structure or sequence to things that you need to learn. Yet many, many people parent, and parent well. They do so because they are motivated to do the best for their child. They don’t know everything there is to know, but when issues or challenges arise they seek out information and advice, and adopt strategies that they feel are appropriate. Generally they reflect on whether their strategies are working or not and will seek other information, or adopt other strategies if they don’t. Sometimes parents turn to friends and family for advice, sometimes they go to courses, sometimes they will consult ‘self-help’ books and other times they will turn to professionals (such as doctors). Most of the time, however, they experiment with different approaches themselves. One further point here is that parents of new-borns will vary rarely read the chapter of the ‘self-help’ book on coping with adolescents, although it doesn’t hurt for them to have the book on the shelf, ready for the coming years!

The picture I am attempting to paint here is that learning in ‘real life’ isn’t generally very ordered or structured. Learning is usually motivated by an activity which needs to be performed or a problem which has been encountered. Individuals seek and select information from all kinds of sources to meet their own personal needs and interests and there is always further learning which they can continue to pursue as their activities and practice develop and they reflect on their new goals (Course resources, 2003).
In this way the metacognitive process itself assisted students to reflect upon their expectations of teaching and learning and to challenge these in relation to the type of every-day non-institutional learning that they were used to doing in their everyday life.

In this way the metacognitive process itself assisted students to reflect upon their expectations of teaching and learning and to challenge these in relation to the type of every-day non-institutional learning that they were used to doing in their everyday life.

It is this type of ‘authentic’ and ‘problem based’ learning that is often what computer-based and online learning is about.

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