Earlier I wrote about the learning curve and what happens when we reach the point of understanding that eludes us. What happens when our minds are pushed past the point of comfortability?
Frustration. Anger. Annoyance.
After working with Evernote and observing the class working with Evernote, I noticed a pattern within myself and which I observe in others. When we work with technology and it doesn’t work, we default to, “It is broken!” Something must be wrong.
99% of the time, it isn’t broken. Nothing is wrong. It’s just a matter of backing up and systematically figuring out what has gone off track.
I compare this to untangling a cord. If I systematically untangle the cord and pull slowly finding where the nots are and slowly working through them, I can untangle the cord relatively easily without frustration. However, if I lost patience and start pulling and tugging, then I get more knots than when I started. The problem is that I know this. And yet, I still get impatient and end up with a tangled mess.
New learning is similar to this dilemma. We are faced with new and challenging circumstances, and we need to approach them like knots. Both as students and teachers. How do we get students to work through the knots step by step, slowly and carefully? I think the key is slowly. Teaching students (and ourselves) to be patient and think through problems rather than rushing and ending up more entwined than when they began is the challenge of this new age. We are constantly bombarded with new learning. Every new app, new piece of hardware, and new person we meet comes with its own learning curve. Every new skill takes time to learn. But I think that the brilliant programmers of this world have made us soft and impatient.
I don’t want to sound like an old curmudgeon, but when I first started using computers, if I wanted to get a peripheral to work, I literally had to write lines of code. To print from our old Commodore 64, I had to to into a program and write lines of code so that the printer would be recognized. To play games, we typed in code from a magazine and recorded it on a cassette tape. I have been through the computer equivalent to walking six miles to school uphill in the snow. So when I am faced with the challenge of figuring out new technologies, I just try to remember how much easier everything is than it used to be, and it makes me a little less red in the face and ready to quit.
As teachers, we need to remember that what comes easily to us doesn’t necessarily come easily for our students. After teaching a subject for a long time, we become experts and the knowledge we have is second nature. But every year, we are faced with new students who seem to know less and less. But perhaps that’s just because we know more and more. We have untangled the same knots for years, and we can do it with our eyes closed. Now we need to open our eyes and make sure that our students leave our classrooms with that same ability.