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Nature Actuated Learning and Teaching: The NALT process


After experimenting since 1967 with the format of teaching science described here it appears that the approach is successful because it works in conjunction with all those processes that humans use for learning, deciphering, and assimilating information and for problem solving. This is a slow, methodical, and ongoing process which requires a certain amount of processing time. Humans work via overviews, rather bird's eye views. These they capture quickly as if on the run, and the information so captured is later deciphered, accepted, rejected or modified and eventually assimilated and added to one's own store of knowledge and knowingness. Telling someone the facts or the conclusions that one reached after life long experimentation or analysis just does not do it. They are irrelevant to the one who has not experienced them.

Dr. Haque insists that for any teaching format to be successful it must conform with the learning process described above inherent to all humans. Whatever learning we humans do, whether in or out of school or at home or at work, is done through the application of this basic process. When learning and teaching is dove tailed, Dr. Haque calls it the Nature Actuated Learning and Teaching™ or the NALT™ process. He believes that this process is as involuntary as breathing mainly because both are essential to survival. For the survival and evolution of the species, nature could not afford to gamble by placing such an essential function under our voluntary control.

You can see this process at work when we put those game puzzles together. First of all, if the lid with the picture is missing, one would quickly get frustrated and chuck the whole puzzle out. When schools teach without an overview, it is analogous to expecting students to put a puzzle together without having access to the lid with the picture.

Schools don't just stop there. In addition to not giving the lid with the picture, they dole out the 1001 pieces of the puzzle in handfuls spread over weeks or months. This is the typical quarter or semester teaching format where a subject is broken down into numerous courses given over a span of a few quarters or semesters. Our human minds are not able to cope with this extent of fragmentation. In the absence of essential cohesiveness, the only recourse left is to memorize, regurgitate, and graduate. Grades and not learning thus become the benchmark of ones success.

In the light of the above, it is easy to see why all those programs which profess that, "where there is a will there is an A," are not necessarily promoting learning and knowingness. The same can be said about the programs promoting mega memory. The false sense of accomplishment they provide is worse than ignorance because the one with ignorance at least knows where he or she stands and how far the journey is ahead.

Another way to see the NALT™ process in action is to observe the game of chess. Making someone memorize thousands of varied moves of the masters is not going to make an accomplished chess player. Chances are that he or she will run away from it all if for no other reason than to retain some semblance of sanity and self acceptance.

But show a person the 7 or 8 rules of the game, play with that person one or two games, and then see if you have not just initiated the making of a master.

We humans are basically learning machines employing specific learning processes. Much like computers which have their mechanisms of receiving and processing information, we have our systems. In order to program and use a computer, we respect a computer's idiosyncrasies. We must do the same for humans if we are to allow them to fully actualize.

By following and applying the NALT ™ process, full actualization seems possible. Imagine that we learn chess by learning 7 or 8 rules of the game. The rest is strategy, a domain of the human mind.

The same is true of learning science. Here the 150 concepts and skills are the rules. The rest is, again, strategy. Application of these rules and skills allows us to solve problems, answer questions and decipher nature's secrets.

These rules also make the complex world of science and technology which surrounds us, less formidable and more comprehensible. Much of our mental health, Dr. Haque believes, depends on how well we understand this world of ours. Early humans unable to comprehend natural phenomena such as eclipses and infectious diseases, ascribed them to God's wrath requiring sacrifices, often humans and occasionally virgins, for appeasement.

The confused modern human does not blame Gods. Although outwardly, he blames the system or the establishment, inwardly he blames himself for not understanding his world. It is this, very personal, process of self belittling and effacement which seems to be at the root of many dysfunctional processes categorized as mental illness.

Learning via the NALT process could reverse that feeling creating a wholesome actualized individual.