There are many ways to learn, both inside and outside of school. All forms of learning are valid depending on the educational objectives that are intended to be achieved and considering the educational level, characteristics and needs of the learner. However, there are ways of learning that are perhaps less known, but no less effective and necessary. We refer to learning by osmosis, learning that occurs naturally and sharing with others.
Can you learn by osmosis?
Many of you have heard, ironically and as if this were not possible, about learning through osmosis. Well, this is possible. Osmosis means the diffusion that takes place between two liquids or gases capable of mixing through a semipermeable membrane. Or, put another way, the reciprocal influence between two elements that are in contact. Thus, an osmosis learning would be a learning based on the reciprocal influence between two individuals.
Thus, learning through osmosis is a form of learning based on the observation and imitation of other people’s behaviors and abilities, and that happens naturally, in various contexts, everyday and school, and not always in a conscious way.
Osmosis learning: learning from the environment and from others
If osmosis learning is based on contact with others, then it is a daily learning based on practice and experience. This means that it is about learning about the environment and the way people behave within it. The environment in which we learn codes and beliefs, behaviors and knowledge, ways to relate and speak.
Then, depending on the characteristics of the environment we learn one or the other things, since there are more stimulating environments and with interesting or other more hostile people. And environments where we even feel we don’t fit in. Well, from all these environments, even the most insignificant, both consciously and unconsciously, we will always learn something new.
Therefore, in a specific environment, we learn skills and behaviors, and increase our knowledge. But also, sometimes, we unlearn, mainly, beliefs and attitudes. That is, in the diversity of environments and in contact with others we learn both good and bad things that help us to configure ourselves as people.
Main characteristics of an osmosis learning
As main characteristics of osmosis learning we highlight:
- It occurs in very diverse contexts and through contact and exchange with others.
- It is a learning based on the observation of other people’s behavior (parents, educators, friends, characters of the TV or social networks).
- It leads to imitation and repetition, or rejection, as a way of internalizing new knowledge (values, behaviors, gestures, codes, ways of speaking).
- It is a learning that occurs naturally. And, although it is also possible in formal educational contexts, it occurs informally and not always consciously.
Importance of the environment and the adult figure in an osmosis learning
Like any other form of learning, osmosis learning complements and must be complemented by other types of learning. As this is closely environment-related learning, favorable environments are important for meaningful learning to occur.
For which, if we refer to the education of children and adolescents, the figure of parents and educators is essential to create favorable environments, in addition, because they are adults who must guide, accompany and guide children and students in the interpretation and reinterpretation of the environments in which they are developed.
We must say that learning through osmosis is a form of learning that is inevitable, that occurs in every situation and context, and in every experiential moment of people. It is a daily and constant learning, and that, if it occurs in positive and stimulating environments and with extraordinary people, it can be transformative.