Saturday 24 August 2013

Learning Something New

This morning I read Jacklyn Truscello’s first blog post which she was inspired to write after the #TLDWPeel Conference. In it, she gives a great overview of the two days and leaves us with a reminder to have fun with all of the new things that we are going to be learning as we strive to remain literate in the 21st century.

When I read Jacklyn’s blog I agreed with her about keeping the learning fun. But all day it kept popping into my head and I decided that everything about learning is not fun.

This March, I had the opportunity to participate in a glass blowing workshop with my Visual Arts AQ class.

It was scary.


I was intimidated by the furnace of flames, afraid of getting burned (or is it burnt?). I wouldn’t normally share such an awful picture of myself, but the underarm sweat pits are a good indicator of how scary this experience was. (Tip: wear dark colours to hide sweat pits if you ever go glassblowing)

Handling molten glass for the first time WAS NOT FUN while I was doing it.

I couldn’t help but realize that the feelings I was having were probably the same feelings that some kids have in Phys. Ed. or Math or even at recess. I was afraid of making a mistake, afraid that I would look stupid, afraid that my paper weight wouldn't turn out right, afraid that I’d get hurt. None of this was fun. Logically, I knew that besides actual physical harm, it didn’t really matter if my piece was ugly or broken or if I looked like a sweat-pitted scaredy-cat. But fear isn't always logical.

It wasn’t until Tanya Korostil, our incredible AQ Instructor, handed out our finished pieces a week later that I felt any sense of fun, in fact at that point I would have said that the whole experience was exhilaratingly fun. You can tell that I was excited and what I was thinking by the hashtags I included in my Tweet that day ( #teachersRlearners2 and #Imadethis)

It is ok to be afraid. It is normal to be afraid. It is good and maybe even necessary for teachers to be afraid when pushing themselves to learn new things because when we are students ourselves we can truly empathize with students, our teaching is better and our classrooms are safer places to learn.

Learning to scuba dive, having children, going to university for the first time at age 35, becoming a teacher – not necessarily all fun, all the time – lots of scary parts, but amazing opportunities for learning that were worth enduring the fear. Film and editing videos wasn’t all fun for me or for my students but we learned valuable lessons on perseverance and collaboration.

So now, I’m going to change my original agreement with keeping learning fun. Instead, I’m going to say that we should expect fear when we are learning something new and that we should push through the fear so that later, we can experience feelings of accomplishment, fulfillment, and joy. We can also expect that learning will be hard at times. But when the work is important to us and we can see the value in it, we don’t mind doing the hard work.

Learning to ride a bike isn’t fun if you fall off and give up. The fun part comes once you’ve learned to ride the bike and you get to see everything from a new vantage point.
We shouldn't be too hard on ourselves while we are learning because there will be fear and hard work but most times the results are worth it.

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