Sunday, August 23, 2009

Unintentional Learning

Journal Entry: Coinage = $2.05, 45 pennies, 5 nickels, 7 dimes, 3 quarters; Glass bottles = 6; Ground scores = 11; Best Coinage find = a hunch dime found along a curb that required a few steps detour from regular path.

Feature Entry: Much is written about the secrets of learning. One type of learning is unintentional learning, when we learn by simply observing what others are doing. More about this later.

Actually, learning is simple, if we practice we learn. The difficulty is in creating a desire to practice. Good teachers learn how to excite their students by structuring practice in a way that motivates students to want to practice.

Motivating students is not easy. Motivation techniques should enable students to become intrinsically motivated, to not need external rewards for practice. Intrinsically motivated students practice because they want to get better. In terms of moneywalkers, intrinsic motivation is the awareness that walking is necessary to superimpose physical work into the everyday lifestyle for good health and fitness.

However, we humans seem to be hardwired to need external motivation. Good teachers combine external motivation with internal motivation to reinforce positive practice. For the MoneyWalker, the intrinsic motivation for a sustained daily walking routine is the management of weight control and the other health benefits derived from walking. The external motivation comes from finding lost coins and ground scores, defined as objects of value other than money.

Recently the MoneyWalker has noticed that money spots such as car wash vacuum stations, fast food drive throughs, and newspaper vending machines are producing less coinage than in months past. One reason may be unintentional learning. Over and over, the MoneyWalker can be seen in the neighborhood with his more than obvious shinning reflector vest and orange billed visor checking these spots on a regular basis. Without intention, he is modeling so that others may learn from his example.

One explanation for the loss of coinage finds by the MoneyWalker is that observant customers, fast food workers, school children, and others have observed this gentleman’s behaviors and have concluded that he is finding money by searching in the moneyspots. So now the MoneyWalker may be facing unexpected competition from those that have learned, although not intentionally, to check the money spots for themselves.

As a result, to maintain a high average daily find of coins, the MoneyWalker must walk longer and use advanced techniques for finding money. These advanced techniques are not “unintentional,” rather they are intentional and are themselves a sophisticated form of learning that require extraordinary powers of concentration and focus.


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