Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of spending 5 days facilitating 'Designing for Learning' events in Hailsham, East Sussex. One participant from the secondary sector had asked his students to engage in an open-ended problem based task/project as part of their History lessons. The products were impressive and really provoked dialogue between everyone.
The 'History of Women's Fashion 1900-2000' caught my interest…and I turned immediately to the 1980's - my teenage era.
"Pirate style…power dressing…shoulder pads…designer labels…look as if you had made it"
I have to admit that my first reaction was to laugh loudly. Images and memories came flooding back! From clothes, we moved onto TV programmes with big shoulder pads - 'Dynasty', 'Dallas' and 'The Colbys'. Much laughter ensued.
A few days later, on a more serious note, I started to reflect on technology in the 80's. The 'space invader' game, my Spectrum 48k computer with rubber keys, our first video recorder (did we opt for VHS or Betamax?), vinyl records, telephones with cords and the dial that you operated by putting your finger in the metal ring and pulling it round.
On talking to my 14 year old nephew, he was aghast…and I think the comment went something like,
"Lynne - were you really alive in those olden times?!"
In the 90's, I was at University. My campus had the first of the internet regional servers. I remember attending a seminar, sitting on stools in the library back area. We were about to get our first taste of this thing called 'the world wide web'.
As they put in a search term chosen by us, I sat waiting. Intrigued. 10 minutes passed by…20 minutes…almost 30 minutes. And then some information popped up.
My reaction as a 'trainee teacher'…
"This internet thing will never catch on! Can you imagine having to wait 30 minutes for it to work whilst sitting with a class! What a nightmare!"
How little did I know!
(And the search term we asked for…Emma by Jane Austen! We were writing assignments on this and thought we could do with a bit of free research from the 'world wide web'!)
Reflective question for you all: When did you first hear about/use the internet? Where were you? What were your initial thoughts/reactions?
…for all involved.
This week is going to be full of learning for us…and potentially quite challenging. We are preparing ourselves for some uncomfortable moments.
If you are reading this and know that we are working with you this week, you have no need to worry. The 'learning' is more to do with our peripheral tasks!
For those of you who have watched with interest during training events as Andrew organises the resource boxes and bans me (Lynne) from even going near them...this week I get to learn! The question is 'who is likely to be more uncomfortable?'.
Andrew is recovering from recent surgery and has been advised not to lift/carry anything for 3 months. We have needed to react positively to this news and reassess how we prepare for events. It has left us reflecting in a very real way on the emotions that occur during moments of new learning - however insignificant the learning may seem to others.
Learning can definitely be uncomfortable - for all involved. Whether you are the perceived 'teacher' or the 'learner' in the task. In fact, more often than not, the 'teacher' can be equally uncomfortable during new learning situations - the moment when you relinquish control, take that risk and trust your learners to take ownership. Sometimes the most difficult task is knowing when NOT to step in.
So - this week we head to East Sussex. I will be carrying boxes, organising resources and ensuring everything is packed away in the correct place. These tasks are not usually high on my list of priorities. They are not within my preferred skill-set. Yet, I am motivated to learn and to achieve success.
Motivation and relevance is key to new learning. I'm also pretty sure that I will be needing some 'gentle' guidance, support and recognition of progress this week. And, who knows, I may even develop some muscles as a by-product of my new learning. ;-)