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Intrinsic learning and self-organization

In learning, a pattern is imprinted primarily through experiencing a movement or a situation. The corresponding model describes learning not as "repeating the solution many times", but rather as "the repeated search for the solution to a particular task". This intrinsic learning is characterised by a high degree of self-organisation, which is why the solution is also always strongly individualised.


Self-organisation → Intrinsic learning is characterised by a high degree of self-organisation, which is why the solution is also always strongly individualised.

kinesthetic learning → Learning by experiencing and experiencing, learning with all the senses.


A widespread understanding of motor learning, for example, as in the case of learning handwriting, assumes that learning is based on repeating a certain movement as often and as accurately as possible. Through these frequent repetitions, it is assumed that the details of the movement become imprinted in the brain. However, upon closer examination, this is not actually correct.

Even though motor learning is of course related to frequent repetition, repetition is only part of the learning process. If we look at the acquisition of handwriting in school, for example, we notice that although we all learn the same alphabet and repeat these forms in endless exercises, the handwriting of adults then deviates seriously from this school writing. This shows that the writing form was not actually printed. Also, repetition alone is not a path to guaranteed success; for example, mistakes can also be practiced, which then become equally ingrained and difficult to correct later.

Self-organization and movement

So how did we learn to write? In addition to individualization, the characteristic of routine writing is the optimization of the sequence of movements, that is, an extremely high efficiency of writing. This is interesting because we were not taught this aspect of handwriting at all. On the contrary - school writing is actually extremely ineffective and unnecessarily complicated writing. So there are certain mechanisms that self-organize the motor function in the learning process. Successful self-organization subsequently leads to successful automation of movement. The ability to self-organize the learning process can vary greatly in children and, accordingly, learning is more difficult or easier for children.

Intuitively, some children experience certain learning situations that are conducive to the learning process. For example, at some point, many girls begin to shape their writing in a way that promotes movement, using scribbles, round shapes, or changing the size of the letters. With these changes, they accumulate many valuable motor experiences that help them make their writing more motor-efficient in general—regardless of whether these scribbles are remembered later. However, if children adhere to strict writing requirements and try to simply fulfill these requirements, they are denied these movement experiences. This creative approach to learning tasks thus promotes the implicit self-organization of the learning process and improves learning outcomes.

Learning involves experience

What is actually being memorized is a motor pattern. This pattern is learned through experience and is described by the term kinesthetic learning. The corresponding model describes learning not as " frequent repetition of the solution " to a given motor task, but rather as " frequent search for the solution to a given motor task ". Thus, learning is more of a search process, and the outcome is initially uncertain. The solution may then contain more or less pronounced individual components, just like handwriting.

Therefore, this means that even if we all practice the same form of movement, the result would still be individual and certain differences would occur. We are not robots and therefore have different personalities, preferences and tendencies and ultimately different body (physical) conditions. This thought should always be in our minds when teaching and learning movement.

Even though there might be a biomechanically "optimal" solution, a model can always only be an approximation and is not binding . The most suitable movement for each individual can be recognized not only by the good result of the movement, but also by the optimal efficiency and consistency, decisive factors for movement synergy.

What does this mean for my teaching practice?

Repetition is important in learning, but not detailed repetition of an exact specification, but repeated practice as a problem-solving task. To promote a learning process, it is not necessarily favorable to give more instructions. Rather, the child should be motivated to practice, search, and experiment with possible solutions.


Reflection question

What should a script look like that makes it easier for children to learn to write?


1) How can you recognise self-organisation in handwriting?

A) If the instructions are too vague
B) By different learning speeds
C) Strong individualisation

2) Repetition is important when practising because

A) the handwriting is better remembered
B) experience is gained repeatedly
C) fewer mistakes occur


1️⃣ → C) Strong individualisation
2️⃣ → B) experience is gained repeatedly

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