What is Breakthrough Learning?

What is Breakthrough Learning?

A breakthrough is an event where we face what seems impossible and, with a new approach, with new technology, or with superhuman efforts, we are able to break through and succeed.

Important Breakthroughs in history

We are all familiar with the long history of breakthroughs in science and technology.

In my lifetime we went from slide rules to pocket calculators, to computers and now hand-held devices that take and mail your pictures, surf the web, and even include a telephone.

With music we have changed from records and tapes and CDs to computer downloads. And, as you well know, the kind of music changes almost as radically.

Huge social and political breakthroughs include voting rights for women, Civil Rights, Gay Rights. What will be next?

Communication has gone from face to face,  phones and cellphones. Now  we make friends on Facebook or in chatrooms and even through Internet dating sites.

But in education, most  breakthroughs are in new methods for teachers.

Students still read books, do math homework, memorize vocabulary, and take tests much the same way as I did in college and as they did in my parents’ and grandparents’ time. It’s true we now use computers for instant research and write papers that can be revised and corrected without needing to retype the whole thing. The question is:

“Why so few breakthrough in Methods of Learning?”

That’s what this website is about. There are helpful methods in some areas but most students either never heard about them or don’t know how to use them. You may know or discover methods that I don’t know, methods that could be helpful breakthroughs  for other students. If you do, please share them.

What is a Learning Breakthrough Moment?

The sun breaks through the cloudsYou are certainly familiar with the idea. A comic strip shows someone with a light bulb glowing inside or over his head. He’s had a new idea. Some say they have a flash of inspiration. Some say the answer just came to them.

For Archimedes, settling into his bathtub, it was a Eureka Moment. The water overflowed and suddenly he knew how to find the volume of a crown. I’ve always pictured Archimedes running down the street naked, waving his towel in the air in excitement.

When this moment of insight opens the door to a new way of learning, it can be called a Breakthrough Learning Moment. Before that moment the task seems impossible. Suddenly you see a way to accomplish “the impossible.”

Picture a gray day. The sky is heavy with dark clouds. Then, quite by chance, there’s a break in the clouds just where the sun is.  In the midst of the darkness, the sun’s light shines though.

How does this happen?

For many people, especially in the sciences, this moment begins with a question.

  • What is the shape of the DNA molecule and how does it work?
  • Why do apples and other objects fall to the ground? What is the cause of gravity?
  • What is the smallest particle of matter?
  • How can the chemical elements be organized?
  • How can we compare the strength of earthquakes?
  • Is there more than one kind of intelligence?

Sometimes we may be thinking of something entirely different when the answer pops into our minds. These are Breakthrough Moments. Those who don’t struggle with difficult questions rarely have this experience.

For students, it often begins with  a difficult assignment. It seems impossible at the time. The question here is “How can I ever understand this?” or “How can I remember all this?”

The problem simmers in our brains as we struggle to find solutions. Then, sometimes, a new idea comes to us.  We discover answers to our questions, solutions to our problems. We may say “It came out of thin air,” This is a Breakthrough Learning Moment.

The blog, “What is a Breakthrough Learning Moment”, repeats some of this material and goes on to describe one of my personal breakthrough moments.  What is a Breakthrough Learning Moment?

Leave a Reply