The Only Constant is Change


learn-by-doingI used to be a teacher. Well, that’s not quite true. I worked in the theatre through the education system – that’s more accurate. I learned alot doing it, about my craft, myself, the young people (some who are not so young anymore!) and I did it all during the time the internet exploded: 2000-2015. I learned most of what I know by doing.

Remember when the computers came in? 1984, I was working in mortgage as my day job. No classes, they just plunked computers on your desk and asked the work to get done in a new way. Word Perfect? What’s that? Lotus 1,2,3? What? We ran back and forth between offices learning from each other how to do things and got the work done. And made alot of money doing it, Learn by doing. Very similar to theatre (my night job). I don’t care how much training you have in theatre, you really ultimately “learn by doing”.

When I entered the education realm, I entered as an artist. I didn’t understand a wit about assessments, rubrics, or lesson plans. I knew acting so I assumed I could just pass it on. I was right AND wrong. I went back to school myself during this time, and was mentored by a very wise lady (thank you Kathleen Dupruis wherever you are up there). I studied and talked and argued and did many experiments while learning to teach the art of acting & theatre – in an education system. It’s a completely different skill. And I learned by doing with a really great mentor. I learned directing the same way. I studied and read, but ultimately I learned by doing, with really good mentors (thanks Dana Elcar and Francine Parker.)

Well, teaching took me to a whole new level of learn by doing in the tech department too. I took online classes and learned how to communicate online by doing it. When I didn’t know how to do something? Ask the kids. This is their territory. They can work their way through tech like dog sniffers in a minefield. If I wanted to learn it, there was someone who could get me through it. And the someone was ALWAYS under 18. I taught them to act and they taught me how to do Facebook, Twitter, Photoshop, Isadora, Qlab, Itunes, IMovie, Movemaker, Audacity, Garageband, lighting boards, projection programs, Snapchat – you name it, they could teach me. Did they actually know the program? Not always, well rarely. But they were really used to not knowing the programs, it didn’t throw them off not to know, so they learned how to learn them really fast.

That’s my take away. I learned how to learn tech stuff really fast from the kids because they taught me it was ok not to know. You didn’t have to wait until you knew it before you gave it a go. They taught me to jump in and work my way through. And when all else failed they taught me about youtube videos and the “help” button.

I taught them theatre and they taught me how to learn how to learn stuff really fast. Here’s the weird thing: the kids were really comfortable not knowing online or with video games, but get them into a classroom setting with the old style of learning and they WERE NOT COMFORTABLE NOT KNOWING. Then it became all about getting it right the first time and getting the best grade. So learning took a back seat. Getting it right ruled in the classroom. So they didn’t actually seem to learn. They regirgitated. School didn’t flow like it did in the virtual world when they were online. They knew how to take virtual risks, but the classroom risks were smothering them.

That’s what I observed. And I learned from them, that if I really wanted to teach them something I had to do it like a video game. I had to set up opportunities for them to discover. Luckily theatre is actually all about that. I think that’s the key. We need to set up opportunities to discover how to do it. That’s the world of today. If we can make the change from handing out knowledge to setting up opportunities to discover it, the education problem will be solved. No more teaching to the test, or going for the result. Discovery rules.

Humans are curious. They like to discover stuff, That’s what I learned from the kids – I learned by doing it.

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