Introduction

Brian Cambourne is an educator who was perplexed by students who didn't seem able to learn very simple things in school, but who were doing highly complex things outside of school. Over time, he analyzed the two learning situations--in school and outside school--to see what was going on with the students he was concerned with. He discovered that the learning that takes place outside of school--where people learn to talk, to participate in cultural traditions, to play sports, to develop hobbies, and so forth--could be adapted to school learning and he identified the conditions of learning that appear to be critical.

Toward an Educationally Relevant Theory of Literacy Learning

This article, by Cambourne himself, discusses his experiences as a teacher and his quest to understand the different conditions of learning. He explains his model of learning.

Here are the parts of the article to especially focus on:

On p. 183, at the top of the right hand column, he describes school-based learning as he experienced it.
On p. 184, at the bottom of the right hand column, he begins to describe the conditions for learning. This continues to p. 186, top of the right hand column, and is summarized in a chart on p. 187.
On p. 188, middle of the left hand column, a paragraph begins: "What happened when these conditions were translated into classroom practice?" Here is where Cambourne describes the results of his research on these conditions and this continues to the end of the article, on p. 190.



Learning Conditions Across the Curriculum

While Cambourne was concerned with literacy, the conditions can be applied to almost any learning situation. Below is a chart of the conditions applied as someone was learning how to tweet:
Conditions_of_Learning_and_Learning_to_Tweet.jpg

Your Turn

Think about things you want to teach, whether that is something related to the traditional school curriculum, the arts, physical education, or teaching within the context of social work, psychology, business, and so many other fields. How can you apply these conditions of learning in your area?