There are two types of optical telescopes: reflecting and refracting. According to wikipedia, a refracting telescope is a type of optical telescope that uses a lens as its objective to form an image. The refracting telescope design was originally used in spy glasses and astronomical telescopes but is also used for long focus camera lenses. The largest refracting telescope today is at Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin http://astro.uchicago.edu/yerkes/.
Yes, I’m an astronomy nut, but also an interdisciplinary learner. So how might refractive learning be different from reflective learning? To me, it’s learning something in one context and refracting it, or moving it to another context. For example, learning how to go camping may prepare you for how to adjust to different types of weather or locations easier. The knowledge you get as a camper may make you more able to think quickly, adjust to the elements, and learn your way around a new area. As a camper and Scout leader, I’m pretty adept at adjusting to situations and circumstances. However, if I only use that knowledge while camping, I haven’t taken advantage of refractive learning. If I do use it in other contexts by learning my way around a new city or place quickly and easily, then I’ve applied some of that knowledge.
Do you like to travel? Are you able to adjust to different cities and cultures quickly? Are you using some knowledge from refractive learning?
Is there something you are able to do because of refractive learning? How about just learning? Because you can learn in a school, can you learn from a book, a movie, a laptop, an ipod? Do you know how to find the essential facts and learning points?
Think about how you can take learning from one domain and transfer it to another. As you do, realize how you are growing. You’ve given yourself greater flexibility in learning, in using knowledge, and in applying that knowledge successfully. And doing it the same way that Galileo first looked at the heavens – using refraction.