Thursday, May 27, 2010

Learning lessons

So ... last night I was teaching a crochet class with my daughter to two students. A mother and daughter came together to learn a new skill together. It got me to thinking about the learning process and how some people set themselves up to fail. The both commented that they had been "trying" with help from another friend but that they just couldn't get it. Below are some of their comments followed by what I wish I could have said but was very good and didn't.

Student: This looks horrible!
My Brain: Only because you have just begun you twit. What did you expect that you would be perfect to start with?

Student: Mine doesn't look like yours!
My Brain: Of course it doesn't. I've been crocheting for over 30 years. You've only begun tonight.

Student: I knew I couldn't do it
My Brain: Then why the hell did you sign up for this class and waste both your time and mine? I could be home knitting or reading a book or sewing.

Student: I can't do this!
My Brain: Well with an attitude like that I can see why you can't.

Student: Throws yarn down in a huff
My Brain: I think you need a little time out. Why don't you go walk around in the glue section for a while and find me the one that smells like hyacinth.

Student: I don't understand why people think this is easy
My Brain: I think I need a little time out. I'm going to go walk around in the glue section for a while until I find the one that smells like hyacinth.

Student: Do you think that knitting would be easier?
My Brain: Yes; I think that knitting is much easier and I prefer it. But I'd also prefer for you not to take anymore of my classes because I think you are a twit and lack major self-confidence that I can't rebuild in two and one half hours and I really don't know if I can take even that much more of your doubt and self-loathing.

Why is it people sign up to take a class (and it doesn't just have to be crochet or knitting, it can be a language class, a writing class, a programming class, a cooking class, whatever) and go into it thinking, "I can't do this"? Why did you take the class to begin with? Didn't you want to learn something new? Didn't you want to use that knowledge to better yourself in some way? Of course you may not get it the first (or second or even twentieth time) but if you stop after that first time you will have succeeded in failing. Every new skill requires some work and dedication. I've seen my children work through learning experiences, but I can't recall them ever saying, "I can't." They might say, "I"m not getting this" or "I don't understand this" or (my personal favorite) "Can you show me again?"

I hope those of you that read this don't see yourself in this post. I hope that you are as bewildered as I am. If you do happen to find yourself here, please consider why you want to learn something and what kind of attitude you are approaching a new venture with. The world is exciting with thousands of possibilities out there and we aren't going to succeed at all of them, but if we start with a defeatist attitude we might as well not even try to begin with.

Approach learning with an open mind and an open spirit. Even if it is a mandatory class in school, consider what you might gain from it. Be joyful in your acquisition of knowledge and experiences. And for my sake (and those of your professors) stop whining!

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