Learning acquires an essential value in childhood, but this vital process has different ways of manifesting itself, as we will see below. What is meaningful learning? It is one that connects a new experience with the reference of previous experiences.
In this way, there is a link between the new and the comfort zone built up to now. The previous scenario is the base from which the child faces a new challenge.
This learning process is especially visible in academic centers, when the syllabus of a subject, and the way it is transmitted to students, is a reflection of this association of ideas. The student discovers a new topic that is consolidated on the basis of the knowledge already acquired.
This is significant learning, that is, it has its own value and meaning. There are other experiences that, on the contrary, do not have such a clear meaning for the student. This is the case when you memorize information without understanding it. He is able to repeat it but does not understand what he is saying.
What happens to what is learned in this way? Despite being clearly remembered at first after having been studied mechanically, this information soon falls into oblivion . In contrast, meaningful learning leaves a lasting imprint on long-term memory.
Meaningful learning theory
David Ausubel was the author of the theory of meaningful learning. This professional was a reference figure in the framework of constructivist pedagogy. From the approach of this theory, when a student learns new knowledge, he not only discovers a new reality based on what he has previously lived, but also contemplates his life experience from the perspective of a new light.
The student acquires an active role, since it is the action that gives meaning to this assimilation process. The cognitive structure is not reduced to the sum of knowledge , but to the integration of ideas and the relationship between them. The student’s personal involvement drives discovery.
Although we have previously commented that mechanical study based on the repetition of ideas can be easily forgotten, it should be noted that this experience also has a different light when completed from the perspective of meaningful learning. Because in that case, the study is not based solely on this approach.
This learning process is totally personalized because each child starts from an individual reality. This process increases the motivation of the student who shows greater interest and attention towards the new objectives.
Meaning provides, therefore, a sense. The student connects with this sense through activities, exercises, dynamics and projects that have an ultimate goal.