Flutterby™! : Learning and Teaching

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Learning and Teaching

2002-04-26 18:26:53+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

While teaching Charlene how to inline skate, I've been working on my own moves, practicing my single-footed transitions, braking and maneuvering in close quarters when we get on a hill or surface that's beyond her current abilities. In between helping Alec with his homework, he and I have been talking about programming, he's trying to learn. And a few days ago I loaned a camera to John, who's been taking photographs professionally for probably two decades longer than I've been alive, and tried to walk him through quickly learning an interface that he's not familiar with, even though it was just controlling processes that he knows cold.

All of this has made me much more conscious of the process of learning, and of just how damned hard teaching is. It's an interesting experience to remember the hours of practicing to get the coordination of lifting heel and toe to be able to do smooth 180 degree turns at any speed while providing stability to someone else which now come easily, or to flash back on my first experiences typing in listings to play Lunar Lander on a KIM-1, and wondering why it didn't work, it was only one or two numbers I'd mistyped, after all. No great revelations, just a reminder that sometimes I forget that few things come easily. And that I haven't been learning nearly enough recently.

[ related topics: Nostalgia Photography Dan's Life Software Engineering Skating Education ]

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#Comment made: 2002-04-27 17:40:23+00 by: ebradway

"Those who can, do... Those who can't, teach..."

I used to think this was a slight on teachers until I started teaching. I find it easier to teach subjects that DON'T come easy (like yoga) than subjects that do come easy (like programming). I'm not an inherently flexible person, so I have to think through each step of an asana every time I do it - the same way I describe it to others. If I were able to just jump right into Marichyasana and bind, I'd never be able to teach someone who can't just jump right in and bind. Of course the folks who just jump into it need some guidance on the correct way before they build bad habits, but the teaching is not necessary. In contrast, I've found it to be almost impossible to teach programming to someone who doesn't get it naturally. I can speed someone along if they pick up on basic concepts quickly.

There are also varying degrees of ability to learn. I've found that bleeding-edge computer people are very quick learners. They can pick up almost anything quickly (except women ;). I've found that most people don't want to learn new stuff or find it challenging. And then you have people with learning disabilities, like dislexia, which can make most forms of knowledge acquisition frustrating. My father does not learn well from books, but he can tear down a car or even an F-15, and put it back together. He learned those skills hands-on. He never could have learned it from books or even an instructor.