Lessons from a Learner

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Yesterday, I attended a jewelry class. The end product would be a beaded bracelet. I was excited to learn something new and to spend time with my friends. I learned how to make the bracelet, but I learned some other things, too.

1.  I was a first-timer. I had never made a piece of jewelry before. There were common vocabulary words for “beaders” that I didn’t know and I soon became confused. 

2.  My friend and I were the only two newcomers to jewelry making. We felt a little isolated and silly for asking so many questions.

3.  The instructor went too quickly. When asked questions, she became a little cranky, saying to everyone after I had asked one in particular, “Remember, I have typed up all the instructions so that you will know what to do.”

4.  I found the instructions difficult to follow. The drawings looked foreign to me, and there were abbreviations I did not understand. I wanted the instructor to model it for me first, then I could understand the drawings and use them when I got lost or forgot what came next.

5.  It was difficult to talk to my friends. Each time I tried, I made mistakes on the beading. It took all of my brain cells and concentration to do the complicated beading.

6.  After repeating steps several times, I felt more comfortable. I had some success and the bracelet began to resemble the picture in the booklet.

7.  When we needed more thread, we had to attach the new thread with a surgical knot. If I remember correctly, an intern on a popular medical TV show spent hours trying to learn to make a surgical knot. How was I supposed to create one and still finish my bracelet in the allotted time? Panic!

Well, I did complete a bracelet that loosely represented the picture given to us by the instructor. I felt proud I had persevered and completed the project. But, I also came away with a powerful understanding of what many of our students must feel like in the classrooms in our schools. Image

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4 responses »

  1. What a fun way to spend a day. I love how you number the things you learned. Your piece looks beautiful and very intricate. Your summation is so true. Sometimes we forget what the kids feel like when they are learning something new. Happy beading. You’ll have to make some extra pieces for unique gifts.

  2. I am sorry that the experience was so frustrating. A good beading instructor makes a huge difference. I am a novice but have loved the classes I’ve taken because the instructor was patient and calm and understanding. I admire the honesty in your writing and I also love that you connected this experience with what it can be like for our students. We all need those reminders (or at least I do.)

  3. Your bracelet is beautiful and, I am sure, valuable to you, but your insights about the learning process are valuable to all of us. Linda Baie’s post about learning to weave reminds me of your post. You both have given such powerful reminders about how hard it is to learn, especially when everyone else seems to know the subject material. I have to tell you that I was pretty cranky with that instructor in Number 3, as well! Good writing!!!

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