The Research on the Ontology of Human Learning developed at The Unicist Research Institute showed that the development of the guiding idea in the learning process of adults is the decisive step to begin the learning process. If there is no clear guiding idea, the learning process does not even start.
The guiding idea of what is being learned is defined by providing an essential answer to the following questions in relation to the object of learning:
What is it?
The definition of the category of the “thing” that needs to be apprehended is the first step to apprehend its nature.
What is it for?
The “What for” of a concept that an adult aims to learn sets the functionality of what is being learned. If the learner truly understands the “what for” of something, the information on this functionality could be used in the future as it would be stored in the long-term memory associated with a concrete use and added value.
What is the differentiation within the category?
Once the essence of an object of learning is apprehended (what is it?) and the functionality of this concept is known (what is it for?), then the individual needs to approach the differentiation of this object of learning with other objects within the same category. Adults are only willing to learn if they know that the solution is “the best of the class”.
The Building of the Guiding Idea: The Key to Learning
The building of the guiding idea is the starting point for any learning process. Learning is one of the most freedom oriented actions. No one can truly force anyone to learn, no one can truly stop anyone from learning. For this learning process to take place, the learner makes an individual decision.
When the guiding idea is not defined, the learning does not begin, when the 3 questions are not validated, and are taken as truths, preconcepts and fallacies prevail, but when they are answered and taken in functional terms, a new door opens for the learning of adults.
And as Sun Tzu stated: Every battle is won or lost before it is even fought. The answer given to the essential questions of “What is it?”, “What is for?” and “What is the difference with others in the same category?” define the success or failure of the learning process.