Learning about Learning

Yesterday, Kai and I had numerous things on our Saturday-to-do-list. One of the items included assembling a two-in-one table that he had received some time ago.  We were both pretty excited as we began the task – him as he looked forward to a game of ping pong and me as I considered the time he and his friends would enjoy with the table. 

Now, typically, I’m pretty handy with assembling items.  I love all of the process –  the unwrapping, checking if you have all the parts and getting your tools.  I’ve got an appreciated and growing set of Allen wrenches from Ikea which I’ve collected over the years.  So, as we began, I can honestly admit that I had no misgivings of the task we faced.  All of that came to a screeching halt when we got the box open and found that there were…….

……NO DIRECTIONS!

Honestly, I might as well have attempted to assemble it blind!

After sifting through the box several times, digging in the garbage bag and checking both sides of the styrofoam, I knew for certain that we had a problem.  So, I did the only things I knew how to do…..I organized the nuts and bolts and set the newest Allen wrench slightly to the left of them!  🙂  AND, I also stacked the boards largest to smallest (I thought that might help too!).

Beyond that, what could I do?  I’m the kind of learner who needs to see the direction I’m going.  I need the map.  I need the diagrams, the arrows and the numbered steps.  And sometimes I need the customer service help number (but not often – usually the map is good enough!).  🙂

Luckily, Ron was soon home and as I explained my dilemna he began to study the pieces.  Within a moment or two, he and Kai had pretty much figured out the process and had a plan for assembly.  I, on the other hand, was wondering when they had learned to speak GREEK!  I had no clue what they were talking about!  They were turning the boards over and back examining where various components would go, describing how the table would eventually flip and talking about ‘lugnuts’ (a new peanut?)!  They had it all figured out so quickly!

So I’ve been thinking about that whole process this morning. I’m wondering about how each of us brought our learning to the task.  Yes, the job is done but what have we learned from it?  So, in thinking about our thinking – here’s what I’ve got:

1) It never hurts to organize!  Organize the nuts and bolts (if you’re setting up a table); organize the ideas, thoughts and questions (if you’re going to write) and organize the information and concepts (if you’re studying!).  It never hurts to organize (actually, it ALWAYS helps to organize!)

2) Use oral language.  Talking is the most prominent form of communication so we should use it in our learning.  Kai and Ron “talked through” the process of figuring out HOW to set up the table, then “talked through” the process of actually assembling the table.  We need to talk about our ideas, our learning and our questions. 

3) Work with a peer.  In addition to the oral language component, there’s also the fact that “two heads are better than one”.  When possible, students should work in pairs or groups that facilitate deeper learning.  Ron, Kai and I working together meant the job got done. Me on my own – well, it wouldn’t have happened!

So, that’s my weekend of learning about learning.  Hope everyone is refreshed and ready for some learning on Monday! 

Happy Time Change!

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