It’s good to be surrounded by people who know a lot more about technology than I know- virtual and face-to-face friends, colleagues, my son. I can always ask for assistance and they are more than willing to help me unwrap or unravel whatever I have done to create my own version of chaos theory inside a device. Often, they say things like “I’ve not seen this before” or “Boy, I’m gonna have to ask somebody else about this.” This isn’t new in my world. My approach has always been to jump in and try to figure it out as I go. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not. It definitely makes learning new things a bit messier.
I’m truly baffled as to why I am so resistant to using print resources to figure out technology tools and apps despite my passion for 24/7 reading. Perhaps it’s a kind of stubborn resistance to depending on someone’s formula or a reliance on pre-defined steps. I used to feel the same way about math problems in textbooks, too. Or, maybe it’s some sort of Konrad Lorenz imprint on my grandfather who used to say when he would pass a tool to me to help with a project, “the worst thing you can do is break it.”
Anyway, I finally set out to build my own personal blog space this week. I looked at over one hundred blogs over the weekend as they began to stack up on @tomwhitby’s RebelSBloggers wallwisher site. When I hit the publish button on my own post at eduratireview, I watched as fellow bloggers started posting. It struck me that the time was right to build my own blog site, preferably with no assistance. How hard could it be? What would I do if I messed it up? It was comforting to know I could go to @beckyfisher73, @paulawhite, or @chadratliff- all accomplished bloggers in my immediate neighborhood- and just ask.
Well, I think I’ve done it without anyone’s help. No real glitches. No snafus. I’ve pushed myself up the learning curve, just wordpress.com and me, creating a new space for learning- an interesting space to capture and exchange ideas, information, images, and opinions.
In reflecting on work that’s no challenge for most of those who might read this, I have learned from pushing myself beyond a comfort zone in the use of technology that lifelong learning doesn’t come easily. I get frustrated. I swear that I am done with it- forever. I get embarrassed that what my son does intuitively, I struggle to learn. I’ve come to the simple conclusion, it’s a good thing to feel that way. It reminds me that every day in our schools children struggle to learn what comes easily to their peers. It reminds me that teachers are challenged to find the time and the courage to take a risk and get over the hurdle to learn new skills. Importantly, I am reminded that to learn in a new space may not go as planned, indeed, it may not go well at all. It makes me feel vulnerable. It’s scary. It’s a different version of facing mortality when I realize I can fail publicly.
However, I’ve learned an important lesson from my friends and colleagues over the years; I can fail and bounce back with their support to learn what I need to keep going as a learner. It’s when I feel I have no learning safety net that I fear failure’s permanence. I wonder how many of our children feel there’s a learning safety net there for them when they fail, rather than just another bad grade. We must not leave those safety nets to chance- not for our colleagues, our family, our friends, or the young people we teach. After all, on some days any one of us will need that net.