This follow up journal is more in service to discuss the apologetics for this episode than strictly being a thing that I originally found of much value or import. I’ve heard it bandied about a fair few times about the value of this episode’s discussion on learning (or different types of learning) and I thought I would try to give another more fair side to the coin.
To start with I feel that often when discussing the topic of ‘learning’ that the context is often not given justice or much explanation.
Learning is when you acquire new skills or knowledge but there’s more to the picture. I would say that a person is being ‘taught’ when another person is trying to help them acquire new skills or knowledge and that ‘study’ is when a person tries to teach themselves. I’d say that this episode misses completely the whole angle of individual learning because the whole thing is built around the rest of the M6 trying to ‘teach’ RD knowledge about the wonderbolts. This episode is, at a surface level, more about teaching than learning. Speaking of ‘learning’, part of the important properties of its definition is ‘new’ skills or knowledge. Just because you are being taught or are studying doesn’t guarantee that ‘new’ knowledge will be gained (which means you aren't "learning" strictly speaking). Ironically for those looking at an angle of learning the majority of this episode doesn't actually have much learning in it, only RD and maybe Twilgiht learn anything this episode (be it Twilight picking up the method at the end or the knowledge of the Wonderflops gained by RD by that same method).
As such, some people have made the false equivalency that what the others taught was how they learn(ed). Well, all we see is them ‘trying’ to teach RD (but no learning takes place), they are assuming or relying on loosely applied outside information that what they are doing actually teaches anyone. What one could say from just this episode however, is that these methods are completely ineffective, which more speaks to the poor choice of presentation. Part of being an educator isn’t regurgitating information the same way that’s best for you but rather in a way that you think is best for your audience. Ironically many people have missed the fact that the rest of the M6 don’t seem to know RD very well if their methods are completely ineffective (because they obviously didn’t tailor their methods very well too her), the episode speaks more about bad teachers than other ways of learning.
The biggest problem this episode has (or maybe it’s protractors) is the false idea that presenting an idea or symbol means you are commenting or discussing it in a meaningful way. As before, the episode is more actually about ineffective teaching than learning. Symbols can mean a lot of things to people, but just presenting different methods doesn’t mean you are exploring those things in detail or that your story is about what you can try to connect between them.
To help explain I’ll make an analogy with religion.
Imagine for the sake of argument that RD is having a crisis of faith and instead of presenting different methods of learning, the others present different symbols of different religions. So instead Twilight just shows RD a cross, FS a dharmachakra, Pinkie a Star of David, Rarity a Star and Cresent and AJ just likes farming apples. In the end Twilight sees that RD likes food (and cider) and so she shows her the Flying Spaghetti Monster, this unlike all the prior symbols speaks to RD and she instantly converts to pastafarianism with 100% levels of contentedness.
This analogy does have a lot of similarities to the original. It presents the subject matters briefly and abstractly, ‘just’ a cross doesn’t really represent or explore the large scope and possible meaning Christianity (or the other religions) can mean to people, just like having a lecture speaks about that type of “learning”. The confusion between the symbol of a religion and what it represents is similar to the confusion between teaching and what teaching can do. The reasons RD picks up Pasta and the lessons are equally cheap and lazy get out clauses. The episode does no justice to learning because it didn’t explore it in any depth, just how it didn’t do any justice to faith by failing to explore it in any depth either.
Possibly the religion one might be hard for people to swallow, one could try doing it with fandoms (show her a Tardis, Batman...), companies (a McDonalds sign, burger king...) and the like. Just be sure to use something symbolic of the thing being discussed rather than what is actually being discussed in the analogy (be it what fandom to join or food resturant to eat at).
In conclusion, remember that this episode showed ‘teaching’, not ‘learning’. It speaks more directly to ineffective teaching and genius levels of hidden talent than it does learning in general. I hope that my fellow skeptics out there pick up on what this episode ‘is’ to counter the hoey.
Look out for people saying terms like “represents” they are using vague symbolism that is as weak as tissue paper compared to what the episode actually depicted. And look out for their examples, I have been shown many autistic geniuses, to try to justify this episodes applicability to the masses. Geniuses are clearly the exception and they are trying to make this episode the exception because they like equating themselves with those exceptions.
'Real' understanding about learning is about perfecting our abilities to teach and study. Rather than patting ourselves on the back with how awesome we are unlike all those smelly ineffective teachers.