Learning Through Loops: UAGC Harnesses Language

MIT Researcher Deb Roy reminds us that learning is intrinsically social; we learn from each other through feedback loops of increasing complexity. At UAGC, students participate in cooperative unison reading, learning to harness these loops together. Likewise, teachers have regular one-one conferences with students in which these learning loops are used to "gently bring" students into more complex language, thought, and ideas.

And what we found was this curious phenomena, that caregiver speech would systematically dip to a minimum, making language as simple as possible, and then slowly ascend back up in complexity. And the amazing thing was that bounce, that dip, lined up almost precisely with when each word was born — word after word, systematically. So it appears that all three primary caregivers — myself, my wife and our nanny — were systematically and, I would think, subconsciously restructuring our language to meet him at the birth of a word and bring him gently into more complex language. And the implications of this — there are many, but one I just want to point out, is that there must be amazing feedback loops. Of course, my son is learning from his linguistic environment, but the environment is learning from him. That environment, people, are in these tight feedback loops and creating a kind of scaffolding that has not been noticed until now.
— Deb Roy, The Birth of a Word