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On learning how to learn and taking responsibility for our own learning

September 24th, 2006 · 4 Comments

Learning is on my mind. 

My own private learning; the extreme inputs of learning coming from Rosa Say’s Joyful Jubilant Learning September at Talking Story; the mid-semester exam experiences of my 16 year old son Captain Scarlett; and those of my daughter in her first year of high school, feeling close to overwhelm from the amount of work she is expected to get done.  (Not to mention, of course, the day-to-day learning experiences of being a growing human being…)

Captain Scarlett, in his study for his exams, physics in particular, recruited the assistance of his tutor – a friend who left school only a year ago with the highest marks possible.  In the prep for physics, he was given sample problems, which were to be solved using excel in the exam.  She couldn’t figure out the problem, and he since found out that it was graded a second year uni level problem! 

So he struggled, and spent hours on the computer working it out.  And work it out he did.  But he doubted his ability to replicate it in an exam setting.  Imagine, then, his jubilation when I picked him up after the exam, and he felt he’d aced it.  He was so proud of himself.

He worked through the problem, which in the end produced a graph.  The graph was flat, and he almost panicked – he knew it should look like a mountain.  But somewhere along the line, all that exam technique that we and his teachers have been drumming into him kicked in, and he went back to the beginning and began reviewing his work.  Finally he realised he’d left out "Radians" in the initial equation.  (Don’t ask, I have no idea! I never did physics.)

He then spent the remaining 20 minutes going through every single point of his answer, to ensure he was 100% happy with it. 

He was so proud of himself, so positive and excited.  It was a great way to start the holidays.  And the best thing?  He’d managed his learning himself, and nutted through the problem until he knew it inside out. 
To me, this is a great lesson
of real learning – and learning about learning – one that I hope will stay with him for the rest of his life (or at least through university!)  You can learn anything, if you know how to learn.

He’s finally worked out what effort is required to get the marks he needs to be able to choose what he wants to do at uni and beyond.  And I am so proud of him.

Related posts:  Joyful, Jubilant Learning

Tags: Why Did I Have Children?

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chris // Sep 25, 2006 at 9:19 am

    Captain Scarlett is certainly turning into a strong effective human being.
    It’s such insights that keep us going through the crappy moments of parenting adolescents (and beyond)
    Well done Karen for giving him the space to learn these amazing lessons!

  • 2 Rosa Say // Sep 25, 2006 at 2:46 pm

    Yeah Captain Scarlett! And yeah mom for allowing him to grow on his own and tough it out… I know how hard it is not to jump in with the mothering thing…

  • 3 Blaine Collins // Sep 27, 2006 at 9:39 pm

    Just catching up on your blog Karen. What a great lesson for Captain Scarlett! He had every right to feel proud for pulling from within to meet the challenge.

  • 4 Karen Wallace // Sep 28, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    Thank you so much for your comments Chris, Rosa and Blaine! I really appreciate your validation – parenting can sometimes be the hardest job in the world – but then, it can also be the MOST rewarding!

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