Sunday, September 18, 2005

Learning is Disorganizing

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
--Andre Gide

If you want to come up with something new, resign yourself to periods of feeling very uncomfortable. The Eureka! moments almost always require you to feel lost for a while.

Having few guideposts– often not even knowing if the process will get a desired result– can be scary, although my research indicates children often find learning less frightening than adults. In either case, to get the joy or satisfaction from new perspectives, you often have to sustain yourself through the fear (and who said learning isnÂ’t an emotional experience?). There are a variety of ways of doing this:

1. Don’t expect creativity to yield specific results. Edward de Bono talks about this quite a bit and is worth looking into.

2. Whether you need results or not, being aware of the fear is the first step. Getting comfortable with it is the next. Expect anxiety that comes with not knowing where you are or the relationship between where you are and where you were when you started. If you’re not the sort to fear getting lost, then enjoy it.

3. You can look at this part of learning as a kind of meditation. Make observing the discomfort a regular part of your learning process.

4. If you are a teacher, help others under your guardianship be willing to accept discomfort in their process.

If you are not a teacher but know children, help them to articulate and understand the nature of their experience, both from their perspective and from that of an adult. However, don’t judge and help them to do the same.

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