(2 min read) This morning I woke up to someone posting one of those motivational phrases, or something that was supposed to be motivational about how ‘tomorrow is everything’ …and I thought, hang on, nobody ‘gets’ tomorrow, all we have is where we’re at, right now. I’ve been working on the now, my now for some time, (that in itself sounds like a paradox, but I mean over the past 6-12 months really) and I decided that this morning I would get stuck in to my wall. I sometimes do big DIY projects while thinking about academic writing.
This wall made me think about learning.
How does stripping wallpaper in ‘the hallway from hell’ make a good analogy to learning?
As a learner I have certainly been in the position of wanting to do something and really wanting to do something and plugging away at it and seemingly making no progress. That was also how I felt a few minutes ago. I thought:
- When learning how do we know we are making progress?
- Where’s the evidence?
- What do we use as markers?
- Do we do this when we learn?
- Do we help our students to do this when they learn?
Ah, there are in-built systems, you might say – with tutorials, and assignments, and feedback, and and and, but are these telling the students about what they are learning or how they are performing? Perhaps a bit of both.
The most important thing is that the student can recognise the evidence of their learning and know what they, personally, are aiming for.
Then I looked down. It was that fleeting moment when the thought of failure crept in, but somehow it turned into an moment of enlightenment. When I looked down and I saw all the rubbish I had scraped off the wall – I saw the evidence of my progress. It had not been easy, scraping off this stuff, but I have made progress. (by the way who in their right mind wallpapers a wall, plasters over the wallpaper, puts *more* wallpaper, and then paints over that?!?! – this is no easy task.) That was when I started to think about learning and this process made me think about how learning works.
There is no machine that will do it for me, no quick fix. It
takes patience, and grind, and work. Not necessarily rambunctious effort or gung-ho enthusiasm, but gentle, careful, considered persistence. Learning is like that. Sometimes the dirt gets under your fingernails, and sometimes it seems you get nowhere, but then there are times when something goes right and where there seemed to be no progress, something happens.
Even if this is a slow process, I can see the value in completing it,
and I’m going to keep plugging away.