Learning is acquiring new, or modifying existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves. Learning is not compulsory; it is contextual. It does not happen all at once, but builds upon and is shaped by what we already know. To that end, learning may be viewed as a process, rather than a collection of factual and procedural knowledge.
Human learning may occur as part of education, personal development, schooling, or training. It may be goal-oriented and may be aided by motivation. The study of how learning occurs is part of neuropsychology, educational psychology, learning theory, and pedagogy. Learning may occur as a result of habituation or classical conditioning, seen in many animal species, or as a result of more complex activities such as play, seen only in relatively intelligent animals. Learning may occur consciously or without conscious awareness. There is evidence for human behavioral learning prenatally, in which habituation has been observed as early as 32 weeks into gestation, indicating that the central nervous system is sufficiently developed and primed for learning and memory to occur very early on in development.
Play has been approached by several theorists as the first form of learning. Children play, experiment with the world, learn the rules, and learn to interact. Lev Vygotsky agrees that play is pivotal for children's development, since they make meaning of their environment through play. The context of conversation based on moral reasoning offers some proper observations on the responsibilities of parents.
Famous quotes containing the word learning:
“They are the guiding oracles which man has found out for himself in that great business of ours, of learning how to be, to do, to do without, and to depart.”
—John Morley [1st Viscount Morley Of Blackburn] (18381923)
“If learning to read was as easy as learning to talk, as some writers claim, many more children would learn to read on their own. The fact that they do not, despite their being surrounded by print, suggests that learning to read is not a spontaneous or simple skill.”
—David Elkind (20th century)
“Laughing at someone else is an excellent way of learning how to laugh at oneself; and questioning what seem to be the absurd beliefs of another group is a good way of recognizing the potential absurdity of many of ones own cherished beliefs.”
—Gore Vidal (b. 1925)