I confess: I find some activities super energizing and others just plain tiresome. I am constantly trying to “love” learning more about the inner workings of this machine, but know I am not going to become a “techie” any day soon. In fact, I constantly amaze myself by how much more there is to learn before I will be able to claim to be treating this computer as much more than a glorified typewriter.
What then does keep me slogging away at the keyboard and attempting understanding of computer codes? An irritating inability to quit and admit defeat. I want to understand the computer with the same ease and fluency that many of my students exhibit. Earlier today, my painstaking gathering of email addresses in alphabetical order so that I could issue a (new for me) marketing blurb was something that another, more skilled user, might have accomplished in under 1/2 an hour- and I didn’t feel that marvellous once the deed was done. Yet creating the brochure had been a lot of fun, and the follow up of sending it forth ought to have elicited, if nothing else, a sense of relief. Done, and done…
The tedium then must be the result of my recognizing that little technique had been exhibited in the actual sending of the mail, just painstaking repetition, and as often happens when I think about learning, I began to wonder how to make the experience not only more enjoyable for myself, but also how to remember that feeling; how to best understand the efforts many students offer- efforts that suggest the students remain confused about where and how to improve their written submissions, just as I remain puzzled over what button I could have pressed to speed up this afternoon’s process.
This machine has “a lot of potential”. We describe students the same way, and a report might suggest “Bobby is/is not working to ‘potential’”. But what is potential? And how annoying to offer that remark on a report without more clearly defining goals and steps that could be taken to achieve them. As I prepare for the upcoming school year and excitedly look forward to reconnecting with students and their families and hearing from others who are in new situations, I have decided to challenge the whole notion of “potential” and replace the term with others I find more satisfactory: acquiring, achieving, absorbing, demonstrating, focusing on, and uh hmmm, and learning. And should I see that “Bobby” is finding something tiresome, I will remember what it feels like to struggle with an unknowable task – and change direction. Learning through doing? Certainly. But also learning with understanding. Nike may have a point with their “just do it” slogan, but it is also about doing it right.