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If you have a mentor robot for your child, what do you prefer to teach him: maths or learn to learn maths? Think about it.

It's a trick question. There is no reason to choose one or the other. Rather, it is about one taking you to the other and to other subjects. However, the competence of Learning to Learn is not usually given the same importance, even though both are important. In the previous blog post we talked about the importance of developing soft-skills in children’s education and how social robots can play an important role. We put creativity as an example due to its public interest, although there are others that are perhaps even more important due to the benefit they provide, such as Learning to Learn.

The other day I accidentally discovered a treasure. I was browsing aimlessly, as we all do so many times, jumping from one link to another instinctively, when I saw a comment in which Héctor Ruiz Martín, director of the International Science Teaching Foundation, teacher and researcher, specialist in cognitive psychology of learning , said that there was no scientific evidence to show that creativity was a competence that could be developed and transferred to another field substantially different from the one in which we have developed it.That is, we can develop creativity in a field that we master with significant knowledge, but that we cannot transfer that competence to a totally foreign field. Come on, Ferrán Adriá can be very creative in the kitchen but he can contribute little in the field of computer vision, unless he also knows about it. In other words, developing problem-solving and creativity competence in the field of programming allows us to be creative and imaginative to find solutions to those problems that can be solved through programming.

Curious, right?

Going a little deeper, I found an interview where he was asked about the role of emotional intelligence and educating on emotions when learning. The answer managed to attract my attention even more given the scientific basis behind that statement: “The successful student not only regulates himself, planning, organizing and monitoring his learning, but also does it on an emotional level. This allows him to defer rewards for performing learning tasks when he plays, as well as keeping his nerves at bay in the face of an evaluative test or public performance. "

Problems that are familiar to all of us. When we were students and when we are parents because we see them reflected daily in our children. We were never taught to speak in public, to communicate, and it is still not taught in most schools. They never taught us to manage our nerves when faced with an examination beyond the linden. Our parents thought that this could not be managed, and most of today's parents still do.

My curiosity finally led me to his book “How do we learn? A scientific approach to learning and teaching ”where it includes the results of all the scientific studies that support or deny many of the topics that still populate conversations about innovative educational methodologies, and on occasions, support them.

How many times have we heard that music helps to learn? Well, there is no scientific evidence to support that those who study with music, even if it is by Mozart, learn more and better than those who do so in silence. Nor is there one about which underlining helps more than not doing it. And one thing that caught my attention and led me to reflection is understanding why it is easy for us to memorize a sequence of 3 animals said in Spanish and so difficult in a language that we do not know or even that we know in a basic way.

In case anyone is interested here I leave the link to Amazon. There are many other topics for which there is no scientific evidence either for or against.


And what is the relation with Learn to Learn? How important is it to my child?

Well, a lot. By understanding how our brain works when learning, we can establish the mechanisms that work best in that learning. And Learning to Learn is the competence that allows us to acquire deep knowledge of any subject regardless of how we really are, or how good or bad a subject is 'given to me'.

Hence its importance. It is not about acquiring information for tomorrow's exam and then forgetting it. It is about acquiring knowledge to maintain it and use it in the future. Some discover these mechanisms on their own and have much gained in academic achievement. Others are not that lucky and have a hard time getting some subjects ahead, supposedly because "it's not their thing." These studies show that this is not really the case. Everyone has more or less the same opportunities to Learn to Learn. The difference is in knowing how to do it.

And this has always been important, but in times of the covid, it may be more so. We do not know if children will have to continue combining their education in person or online. It is possible that for a time these models will have to live together and perhaps they will stay. In this scenario, parents do not have time to act as 'teachers' at home. They can be a support. How much time have parents spent managing their children's educational time? Is it sustainable?

Following the popular saying, the children have received the fish but have not been taught how to fish. They have not been taught to Learn to Learn. And, those who have, everyone around them has come out winning: teachers, parents, and especially children.

At school or at home?

Either site is good and both are not without difficulties.

At school it is difficult because there is little space for everything that is not the curriculum, and although these competences must be developed, they are difficult to evaluate. With what most of the time it remains in the sphere of the teacher's initiative rather than in a real implementation within the educational system.

At home it is even more difficult if possible. Most parents, more than teachers, are oriented towards grades as a synonym of success. Acquiring deep knowledge about a subject is usually associated with a good grade, however, the reverse most of the time is not true because it has been 'memorized' without actually acquiring the associated knowledge. It is memorized for the test rather than for learning. As there are also no notes associated with this, it is not usually a priority. But in the case that it was, parents usually do not have quality time or sufficient knowledge for it. Raise your hand who could teach your children to Learn to Learn. If you have lifted it, congratulations! Your child has a great advantage over the rest.

Social robots, a tool to teach Learning to Learn?

Until now, social robots like Aisoy KiK have been used to learn STEM skills, and partially to develop soft skills like creativity and teamwork. Or also, in the case of Aisoy EMO to help develop social, emotional and cognitive skills to children with Autism or other Special Needs.

The case of other more or less sophisticated robots have parallel uses.

However, social robots have the necessary elements to go further in education in soft skills, such as Aprender a Aprender.

Its characteristics to interact by voice, to identify the emotional situation of the child, see their reactions, listen with patience, show alternatives, without haste because it has all the time in the world make it different from everything and positions it as an incredible educational tool. In short, in a similar way to a human mentor, they build a relationship based on trust that provides the child with understanding first and self-regulation later: understood as those mechanisms that allow them to autonomously, plan, evaluate, emotionally regulate, motivate themselves, Modify your study strategies based on your self-assessment and stick with your routine. In a simplified way, have initiative, autonomy and determination which will allow them to be more prepared for any eventuality, even in periods of confinement.

In this self-regulation, emotional self-regulation is key because it allows to maintain motivation in the learning task when perhaps the child would prefer to be playing Among Us. This is technically known as delayed gratification - that ability to defer rewards.

Despite this, social robots are not yet being exploited in this line despite their potential benefits. But there is not much left for this situation to change. The technical and pedagogical bases are already found in emotional robots such as Aisoy KiK and Aisoy EMO. Taking the leap, a small leap, to meet them in our homes working on soft skills education is a matter of time, very little time. A mentor robot of this style would be an ideal companion for our children that would help them in their educational process by complementing the action of the teacher at school and the parents at home. It would be great, right?