Friday, November 13, 2015

Learning Blog 7: Ruts, Not-orders, and happy applications

That title pretty much sums up my mental state this week: not very well organized with ups and downs.  We've been warned all semester that we would hit mental barriers with our learning blogs, and I thought I'd avoided mine until this week.  Last Friday I [thought] I placed an online order for batting so that this week I could tie the baby blankets I've planned on finishing, and when I finally checked my account, I learned I apparently didn't place the order at all.  However, I did learn that my mother-in-law has an adjustable sewing mannequin she is willing to let me borrow for sewing projects.  That was a huge plus.  I've learned I'm more motivated to learn how to make clothing than baby items, especially when I don't have a clue when I'll actually need the latter.

I loved this week's reading.  It is so applicable right now, and has helped me feel like I'm climbing out of the sewing rut and gearing up for this final week.  Several quotes from How People Learn (HPL) on pages 60-61 really helped me.  "Humans are motivated to develop competence and to solve problems...learners of all ages are more motivated when they can see the usefulness of what they are learning and when they can use that information to do something that has an impact on others--especially their local community." This week I've been fairly distracted by working on a project to acquire funding for a water-efficient landscaping initiative.  This project is something I'm passionate about, and can see how it would benefit our drought-prone state.  Right now it is much easier to focus on a community benefit rather than sitting down to tie yarn knots in a baby blanket which I don't know when I'll use.  So I've been trying to broaden my perspective by remembering that while I may not have a baby now, or even soon, learning to be patient and to finish through a simple sewing project will help me when I tackle bigger sewing projects, and will give me a heads start when we do begin that phase of life.

That ties in with the principle of needing time to learn skills.  I loved how HPL states that world-class chess masters require 50,000-100,000 hours of practice to reach that level of expertise (pg 56).  I'd heard that to be really good at a skill (not world-class, just really good) requires about 10,000 hours, or two years.  I'd rather start taking the time to learn basics and fundamentals of sewing right now, rather than trying to start the 10,000 hours even later.  It seems similar to the principle of earning compound interest-it's better to start sooner with little chunks of time invested, so that there will be enough time for processing the skills and information, rather than trying to cram it all in later.

Making myself think about why I'm feeling in a rut has helped me "educate myself" out of it.  I think it's similar to the stress the reading placed on "making students' thinking visible" so that educators can identify misconceptions and correct them to avoid wasting time and effort.  I've been able to apply the reading to identify why I felt like I was in a rut (not feeling motivated because the project isn't as interesting or potentially beneficial as other immediate projects), and placing myself into a perspective that making the effort now will result in long-term benefits that I maybe can't comprehend right now.  I'm very grateful to be in a course that actually helps me evaluate my thinking, and gives me tools to use to make myself think better than I have.

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