Why and How We Learn
Learning is part of the human experience, and all human beings are expected to learn as they grow and mature. Learning is an all encompassing enterprise that involves the acquisition of skills, knowledge, values, and competencies that enable a person to fit and survive within the society. Therefore, it is necessary to have a conception as to why people learn what they know. At infancy, learning is driven by instincts and is directed towards survival. For example, young children instinctively learn to cry, suckle, and spread their hands when they think they are falling.
Learning is necessary when it is apparent that there is a need to change what we know in order to achieve the desired outcomes. The assumption is that learning is goal oriented and has attitudinal, emotional, and cognitive components. Although learning can be an end in itself for some people, generally people learn because they want to meet specific goals and objectives, which may be necessary in making them fit better into society. There are two main ways through which people learn – observationally and associatively. People learn observationally by watching how others perform different behaviors.
People learn associatively when they are able to establish a connection between two or more disparate events. The learning process begins when a person becomes consciously incompetent, and actively engages in an activity that will help ameliorate the incompetency. Once the activity helps a person to acquire the necessary competency, he/she becomes unconsciously competent since they do not need to think about it.
How and why we learn has a big influence on how a person approaches systems thinking. Systems can be viewed holistically or in isolation as subsystems. Therefore, the experiences that an individual has when learning will impact on their approach to systems thinking.