Life long learning

Last March the Economist published a review of “The Social Aninaml: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement” by David Brooks. To illustrate how our conscious mind can control our unconscious he uses the famous experiment conduced some forty years ago by Walter Mischel. In this experiment four year olds were left alone with a marshmallow and given the instruction that they could eat it at once or wait until he returned and have two. Yes, deferred gratification at work and indeed at play! What was surprising was that children who refrained at that young age went on to become generally higher achievers throughout life: they had developed means of controlling their subconscious and were all the better for it it appeared.

Does this apply to our classrooms? How often is the quick fix more appealing? How often does a student want an immediate translation rather than use a dictionary? We know the answer. What perhaps we don’t know or need more time to think about is how to raise student awareness of the benefits of  deferred-gratification in language learning. For me this is aso closely related to the idea of autonomous learning and how important the teacher is in creating more autonomous learners.

The original article: and check out a video


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