Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Deciding to learn: big dreams -v- small dreams

Many years ago, after suffering for years with lower back pain, I decided to take a yoga class.  This was quite a brave decision to make since I was living in a country whose language I had not mastered, but the class was welcoming and it was easy to follow the actual positions.  However I wanted to learn more and to do that I had to read about the hows and whys of yoga so I got a book and read about it in English.  Around that time I also found a website about yoga, and I was interested to read on it that someone had written to the teacher who set up the website and asked her to mentor him as there were no yoga classes he could attend in the country where he lived.  I found this interesting - at that time I wondered how a yoga teacher in the USA could mentor someone by email living in northern Europe.  Of course this was before the days of YouTube, blogs, wikis and other Web 2.0 tools.

Out of interest tonight I Googled online yoga courses - I found many millions of hits to yoga classes, yoga videos and free online training.  I suppose if I wanted to learn anything at all I could find a way to do it online.  Cooking, drawing with chalk pastels, cross stitch, how to change a tyre, how to give CPR - all of these I've learned to do using the internet.  Seth Godin writes:
The only barrier to learning for most young adults in the developed world is now merely the decision to learn.
How do they make this decision?  Who or what sparks the interest?  It seems to me that this is an important role for teachers.  Are we opening doors for our students?  And even more important, are we letting them dream of doing something or being something better?  Seth goes on to write about these dreams:
Small dreams are hurting us like never before.  Small dreams represent an attitude of fear; they sabotage our judgment and they keep us from acquiring new skills, skills that are there if we're willing to learn them.
I remember being told a couple of years ago that there was no point in leading change if nobody was willing to follow.   This was someone trying to pour water on my dreams of changing the way we used technology to do things that were new and different.  I suppose at this point I could just have given up, but thankfully the internet allowed me to connect with other educators who were saying the same thing.  Maybe the time wasn't right, maybe the circumstances weren't right, but somehow I was going to go on dreaming this dream and doing whatever I could to show others that they could dream this dream too.  The network of people I connected with on Twitter and through reading and writing blogs pushed me forward and kept the dreams alive, and at the same time the passion I had about using technology transmitted itself to the people I worked with, which meant they were more willing to try new things with technology too.  This is what we need to teach students - whatever they want to do, whatever their interests are, there is someone out there who they can connect with and who will help them move on, learn more.  As teachers it's not our job to teach to every one of our students' passions, but it is our job to teach them how to make these connections once they've decided that they want to learn.

Photo Credit:  Dreams ...  by Ragesh Vasudevan AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike 

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