On the first day of class we were told that 30% of our mark would be made up by a learning project. We could pick anything we wanted to learn and we needed to document our progress. We could pick anything we wanted, anything! The possibilities are endless, except, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to learn. We are so very rarely asked this question in an educational context. Looking back at the last decade or so of my life, I don’t know if I’ve learned anything that wasn’t out of necessity for my job, school, being a homeowner, or becoming a parent. I know that when I’ve tried something similar in my classroom, students also have trouble choosing. I think that I would give them lots of advance notice for thinking time, provide examples, and do interest inventories to help them pick something.
When I picked learning to crochet I didn’t really make a plan for how I would do that or what I wanted to accomplish, or at least I didn’t write one down on paper. I wouldn’t let a student get away with that! I would make sure they had a plan and goals to be met so they could track their progress. I found it difficult to do this because I had no idea about anything crochet. How could I make a plan when I didn’t have the first clue. Well, that would be step 1 I guess – research. Once I had done some research I did come up plan and I had an end goal in mind. I was hesitant to write it down though. What if I changed the plan, or worse, what if I didn’t accomplish that end goal I had in mind. Would I feel like a failure, would others view me as a failure. This is a bit ridiculous as plans change and goals need to be re-evaluated as more information is gained. I can see students sharing these same feelings though. It would be important to make sure they understood that things may need to change and as long as they are learning, they are not failures. At the end of this class I wanted to make a scarf. Although I did not accomplish this goal, I do have the skills necessary to do it.
As I was learning new stitches (I never knew there were so many!) I found it helpful to use those stitches to make a product. This way I practiced the new stitch and had something to show for it in the end. I would encourage students to do this as well, if it was possible. I found it motivating and had those feelings of accomplishment which made me want to learn more. It also made my learning seem more worthwhile. This is important as there were many times I was super frustrated and wanted to quit. Seeing my previously completed projects helped me work through my frustration and keep going. I was also able to see my progress and that I was improving.
Reading directions about something doesn’t always translate to performing those directions perfectly. I found patterns especially difficult to read and follow even when I understood what everything in the pattern meant. When I thought I’d mastered a stitch I would still make mistakes. I definitely haven’t got to the point where I can mindlessly crochet something. Even with paying close attention and talking myself through every step, I continued to make mistakes. Making mistakes is part of the learning process! This translates to my teaching in two ways. In teaching math problems I need to remember that just because a student has done a problem once doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve got it down pat. Sometimes I get frustrated when students say they don’t know what to do; I’m thinking, you just follow the same steps we just did. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s going to happen. When this happened to me I needed to go back to the part where I knew I’d done it right and start/try again. I often re-watched YouTubes and worked through it step by step.
Photo Credit: WellDunn
Learning can be repetitive. Crocheting is a bit repetitive, as is math. It didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, but it was a lot of the same over and over again. You need to learn the basic skills and then build on them.
I found watching videos extremely helpful for learning, but reading written directions and looking at pictures was beneficial at times. It just goes to show we all learn a little bit differently and you may not be able to rely solely on one method. Watching more than one video on the same concept can be a good thing, but it can also be confusing. Different people explain or do things slightly differently. This can a positive. It can fill in gaps and you may find that person that explains it in just the right way for you. I found that sometimes when I would watch another video I would start second guessing myself about the skill or stitch I thought I had, other times it was effective. I different camera angle or set of instructions would solidify my thinking.
A personal learning network is a must for learning new skills especially when you don’t have that ‘expert’ teacher in the room with you. Other people hold a vast amount of knowledge that you can tap into. Even if you do have a teacher, they don’t know everything (I can say this because I am one)! There is much to be learnt from others and many ways of finding that knowledge. The community where we live and online community holds an abundance of knowledge and offers diverse perspectives.
Although learning to crochet had its ups and downs, I thoroughly enjoyed the process. It gave me the opportunity to learn something I had always wanted to do, but thought I never had the time or resources to do. I will definitely try to work an open curriculum, learn anything you want component into my classes.