Are you learning all the time? How can you tell?
Are you failing some of the time? What does that feel like?
Are you a teacher, home schooling parent, or a student of life? Well, if yes, this blog post is for you!
Today, dusting book shelves, I pulled out John Holt‘s, Learning All the Time, and thought, today I want to find my blogging inspiration in this book, and pay homage to one of the great pioneers of home learning and unschooling. I sat to open the book, taking a short break from my cleaning, and fell upon the page where Holt describes Leon, a young black man and his experience with being at the bottom of his class throughout school and what changed for him the summer before his upward bound class where he met John Holt. This story has stayed with me over my years of raising my son so far and my research into how we learn and how we fail because it rings SO TRUE! This young man had been labelled almost illiterate, yet, had during the summer months before the class made his way through a lofty and long piece of literature – he had essentially come to master reading on his own. But why?
When it was this young man’s turn to stand u and speak about his school experiences, he held up a copy of Dr. Martin Luther King’s, Why We Can’t Wait, with his voice shaking with anger, he looked about the room and asked, “Why didn’t anyone ever show me this book?!” What Holt goes on to explain is that over his schooling years not one adult or teacher had suggested he read anything remotely meaningful to HIM! He had never really ever had a reason to learn to read!
So, that’s why I am here blogging. To celebrate those reasons. To share my passions, my meaning in the hopes that I will inspire others.
I’m here is because I love learning and I love teaching, or providing the environment or passion that helps others learn. I realized back a couple of months ago, that I wanted to jump back into photography, back where I started really learning a lot about it – Lord Byng High school, with Mr. McTavish; back when I still felt that I could conquer the world, back when awe and confidence was fresh and palpable. With this realization at heart, I decided I would love to create and teach a work shop on pin hole cameras, the basics of photography, its physics, history and art, geared especially for home learning or outside-of-brick-and-mortar schooling youngsters.
So, what’s up with this course…where is it? I ask myself. I’ve hit a wall. The initial inspiration has flared and spluttered. I jumped right in a and announced to my local home learning community, HS-Vancouver, that I was planing a class for late spring or early summer, and was showered with interested responses. I sent back a brief survey regarding class size, ages, cost and what have you, and got some helpful feedback. Finally, I have put a lot of thought, and some research into planning how the course might go: how many classes, what would be included, location, where to process paper, how much science / history etc. And, then, finally, well….I kind of just stopped.
I hit the old familiar wall, that has scrawled on it, “you can’t do this, You’re not good enough!” “Are you crazy? No one will pay you to do this?” “What if you look like a fool, what if you fail?” and so on, sound familiar? And, I just plain stopped, stalled in my tracks.
Yeah….like so many I know, young and old, I am afraid of failing, of being judged, of not measuring up.
But I have spent the last eight years studying, why children fail, why most of us in North America hate math, why many people need to move to think, why passion, and peak experience, and flow and project-based-learning, and child-centered, interest-driven learning creates life-long learners…..yeah, I have and it’s exciting, it changes everything.
Humans love to learn, WE ARE LEARNING ALL THE TIME! So why have I stopped, why am I afraid?
Because I need to UNLEARN so much:
that it’s ok to
fail, fall down, start again
pursue something passionately for a while and drop it, that learning and creation often comes in spurts and bursts for many
look foolish, make mistakes
do something you love and share it with others
be bold, be shy, be reckless, be overly cautious, BE YOU!
that it’s ok to admit you are still learning!
So, here I am admitting all this stuff, guys, I am scared, this is the first time I am doing this. I am afraid it won’t work, or that someone might laugh at me. But, that’s ok, right? it’s a pilot project. It’s a group learning experience. I am also struggling because I am finding it hard to balance my time, time parenting, time researching, time looking for a job. This of course leads to the horrible fact of money: I don’t have an income right now, and really need one, so do feel guilty when putting time into this blog and my work shop planning….maybe, this won’t bring me the income I need!!??? Maybe this is frivolous! And, at my ripe old age of 43, I should finally grow up and face reality…..get a real job etc. etc.
I don’t know, well yes, I do know. I know that I learned it was not ok to fail, not ok to do what you love, not ok to admit you don’t really know what you are doing, not ok to ask for help. So, now, I am still learning, I am learning all the time, and so grateful for this chance to model life long learning to my kids, to join them in sticking to it, in over-coming the hurdles of fear, in sourcing out the material and knowledge I need to achieve my goals, in being gentle and patient with myself.
The process of this experience, not the product is important. The way, not the end. Yes!
So, I will keep going because what is most important to me is to pursue my passions: photography, nurturing and mentoring children and youth. PLease join me on my journey, though the way may be twisty and uncertain, together we will discover many wonders, and learn an enormous amount about each other, ourselves and life itself.