What Kind of Shoes?
As a learner, what shoes do you wear?
I’m asking this question because I recently had a conversation with a colleague that caused me to ask it of myself.
The conversation began with my explaining that I would be taking advantage of an upcoming opportunity to attend another colleague’s presentation on differentiated math education.
The colleague I was talking to looked confused. “Why would you be going to that?” he asked. “You’re not a math teacher.”
Taken off guard, I went for the simplest answer. “Because I’m the mother of an elementary school student,” I said. (Who happens to be a little math head, although I didn’t mention that.)
On further reflection, I realized that my answer had been incomplete. Because the truth was that I would have been interested in the presentation independently of the subject matter, because the presenter is a friend and I’m curious about what interests him. I missed an earlier opportunity to hear him give this particular presentation, and I was happy for the chance to support him by catching it the second time around.
Taking this line of thinking even further, there would have been a good chance that I would have given up some of my professional day off to attend a presentation by a colleague no matter WHO was giving it, or WHAT the subject matter was, because I’ve been thinking for several years about the pros and cons of different styles of presenting/ tummling/ communicating, and am in fact gearing up to pull together a proposal to present at NACAC in 2011, so a little more grist for that mill is always welcome.
All of which has led me to the realization that, as a learner, I think I don the mental equivalent of hiking boots. Strong, flexible, amphibious, all-terrain hiking boots. Well broken-in.
I read somewhere that most people’s musical tastes are relatively fixed by the time they’re 30 years old, and I thought to myself then, “Not me.”
I was born curious, and I am determined to stay that way. My orientation towards new information is the orientation of a hiker faced with a new trail… let’s get out there and explore!
Do I sometimes turn back? Sure. Have I stumbled? Absolutely. But good luck to you if you think you’re going to be able to figure out in advance which trails will lure me. Much of the time, I don’t even know.
How about you? Do you wear the mental equivalent of shoes designed for jumping? For quick turns? For long distance running? For cross-training? Do you follow a map, depend on GPS, feel your way, look for the creeks, whack your way through with a machete, follow in someone else’s footsteps?
I wonder what my students would say. And I’m curious about you, too. As a learner, what kind of shoes do you wear? How do you navigate your way through the world?
see Kevin Merges‘ Prezi here, if you’re curious.
And a hat tip to the thought-provoking
and ever-engaging Heather Gold.)