Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tell a man about a fish, and he eats (but maybe just in theory)

Friends and observant readers will have picked up that while I love to serve people and am reasonably capable at taking care of my own day-to-day needs, my cleverness is more in the realm of words, ideas, systems, shimmering repartee, and the like - not practical matters like how to drive a stick-shift car, finesse some other piece of machinery, find something I need, or get from point A to point B.

I'm not great with my hands, particularly well coordinated, or adept at spatial reasoning. And yes, I'm one of those people you could describe as "directionally challenged." I've been lost in more countries than - well, than most of you.

I can navigate any of those challenges but I have to try harder and it may just take me longer. When I'm in charge, I can rise to the occasion and exude the capability and confidence necessary to lead others, but it takes a lot of focus and a healthy dose of grace. Which is good, right? Patience, humility, grace?

But moving into a new house and being given the run of another has meant hearing where a lot of things were kept and how various things work, and I'm not sure how much I got down. It's a little too embarrassing to say, wait, can you just put that into writing for me? I'm not completely at sea, but often have to try three or four times to unlock a door or open every cupboard trying to remember or discover where the _____ is kept.

Anyway, my slowness on the uptake with these things has reminded me of the difference between telling somebody how something is done and teaching them to do it. I mean, there is a BIG difference. If the guy at the storage unit told me the code for the gate or the padlock and had me put it in, I would probably have learned the trick with him watching and correcting me instead of struggling through on my own with nobody around. If someone said, "Get the cookie sheet out of the top drawer" instead of just telling me the cookie sheet is in the top drawer or taking it out for me, I think I'd be able to find that cookie sheet again.

I don't want to put the onus on my "teachers," but it does motivate me to watch out for the same trap in my own teaching. To tell somebody how to do something is not the same as to train them how to do it.

Training takes longer, but it sticks better than a lecture does.

1 comment:

Megan Noel said...

well if you ask your teachers to guide you through doing something (rather than just telling you or doing it themselves) maybe you will be teaching them something too.. how to teach a Kinesthetic learner. so maybe you are giving something back to them...

there are so many kinds of learners. i am the kind who wants to know why something is true and the history behind it. if i know those things it helps me remember because if i do forget i can derive the material again by myself. when i try to use that process to teach someone who is very formulaic in their learning style it gets therm really frustrated. to them it's a bunch of irrelevant stuff that muddies the water and they don't need to remember it so they don't want to!

i guess 100 years ago no one probably recognized there were different learning styles so we are probably making progress.