Episode 24 - The Golden Spiral of Lifelong Learning with Ignatius Gous

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Show Notes:

This is the fourth episode in a series recorded in London! In June 2018 we attended the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction conference (or, more simply, EARLI) for the special interest group on Neuroscience and Education (@EarliSIG22). While there, we recorded live interviews with teachers and researchers. This episode features Ignatius Gous.

Ignatius begins the episode with an interesting explanation about the origins of his name. Ignatius is a professor at the University of South Africa, which is primarily a distance university, with students from all over the world taking online classes. He has developed a program for students to learn better and master content more effectively. This program is used by learners at the primary, secondary, and college levels, with advanced students of medicine and law, and even in the workplace. 

Ignatius has long wondered why neuromyths are so prevalent, and his theory is that people want to know about how the brain works, and these neuromyths fill the void. He thus set out to create a framework that would actually be useful and evidence-based, to help those interested in learning to do so more effectively - even those as young as primary school age.

According to Ignatius, learning is not linear - it is more of a spiral - but it still needs structure. Ignatius built his model with the Fibonacci code as the basis. The spiral includes 6 aspects involved in the learning process, with metacognition as the 7th. You can see all the steps represented here in visual form:

Doppler at a Distance Poster SIG EDEN 2018 Final1.png

We talk in this episode about different mnemonic strategies that fit into this model, including the method of loci - you can read more about this method in this blog post. We also discuss the importance of learning basic facts before moving on to transferring learning to new, more complex situations. One idea Ignatius suggests is for students to memorize the headings of a chapter to use as a guideline for organizing and retrieving information. This ties in with this guest blog post by Yana’s former student, who used a similar method for retrieval practice after taking notes in class.

Ignatius emphasizes that we need to always think about how students are going to use the material we are teaching them. He calls his model “the golden spiral for life-long learning”, because learning isn’t just something you do to cram for a test - learning happens until you die. 

Previous Episodes from this series:

Episode 25 - An Interview with Two Teachers

Episode 23 - Executive Function and Computational Thinking with Rina Lai