Learn by doing!

Bird Droppings November 28, 2011
Learning by doing!

“We take in information through our senses, but we ultimately learn by doing. First, we watch and listen to others. Then we try doing things on our own. This sparks our interest and generates our motivation to self-discover.” Marcia L. Conner, Learning through Experience

So often in life it takes experience for us to truly learn, to ultimately understand an idea or topic or process. Earlier today I had a request through email for a nonreligious inspiration, an interesting question. More often than not inspirational books are religious in nature. I recommended a favorite of mine, while Kent Nerburn has a degree in theology and some might consider him a theologian he does not inspire so much in a religious way. His writing entails you to experience, to look to see, to listen, and to hear what is around you. There is inspiration here and now. This could be his other calling which is art. For many years now I have been a fan of Kent Nerburn’s writing and with each new book am more impressed.
The past week out of school for a holiday was about spending time with family, friends and such, I observed as always. I sat several times thinking back just to enjoy remembering my father talking to his grand children or to perfect strangers. He would always have with him a vast assortment of rocks and minerals and would trade with his great grandchildren and friends. He wanted to share bits and pieces of his life as they came to him and as he talked. My mother every Easter has an egg hunt; it has grown over the years to include grandchildren, great grand children and all those who married in to a point of forty or so children from 18 months to 33 years of age, searching for prizes and eggs across the pastures and soccer fields.
I remember sitting and observing my mother and father sharing joy and love with all of these kids and families it made me think. Being in perpetually in graduate school and often theorizing about learning styles and learning techniques and a big fan of John Dewey for some reason I always come back to experience. Often a crucial aspect is where and how that experience occurs. Family is always a good starting point. I have several times in the past few days related to how crucial family is in our world. It is with family where we learn respect, love, community and numerous other critical aspects of human life. We are toilet trained, we learn to speak, we learn to walk and crawl, we learn to drive cars, we learn to yell obscenities, we learn to hit and fight, for it is within family where both good and bad attributes are learned.
For the entire time of my teaching life in public, residential, and private schools I have watched problem children, literally all have come from dysfunctional families. They have learned to have problems. They have learned to be negative or to respond in a negative way. They have learned helplessness many times which would surprise some. I was thinking back to an Easter egg several years ago. I was thinking about my family at that long ago Easter egg hunt, in full view and listening it was interesting. Those who were family were the control group and those who were friends and married in as the experimental group. It seemed they responded differently to stimuli. Family members embraced each little gimmick my mother had out, friends only wanted the prize. Family members spent time talking to my mother and father while friends got their stuff and went back to their minions.
So I wondered why so much difference. I had noticed a new husband to a niece who spent many moments talking with my father, asking for his advice on selecting a piece of garnet from the collection being offered. We learn from example and as I thought deeper and reflected on all I knew my mother and father had a good time, and that was number one. My children all had a great time with dodging rain drops and lightening on that day. The first egg hunt in 24 years to have rain. Funny as I think back seems I recall memories based on food many times and I had a good time devouring several plates of delicious picnic contrivances on that day so long ago.
But as I think back today maybe some of the friends the non family members while they were on a different scale maybe they had an experience that they could learn from. There was no yelling, no fighting, no obscenities, no spanking of children, no hollering to shut up, just a family together enjoying a moment of peace and love. Maybe just maybe as they went home some will rub off and maybe just maybe, all the negative I observed could be salvaged. Interesting we learn by doing, perhaps one of the greatest learning styles available. I wonder if as a nation we could learn by doing. Perhaps we could start seeking peace worldwide, I wonder often if we ever will. But for today after another great feast and family gathering please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and remember to always give thanks if only for the smallest thing.

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