Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Communities of practice: learning to cycle

I'm teaching my daughter how to cycle. Or rather: trying to because there is not much progress, even though we cycle almost every day. I suspect she is not very motivated to learn it now as she keeps on going in weird direction whereas I believe she can keep the cycle straight (if only she wanted to :) and then I get angry which doesn't help. My other daughter learned it very quickly so that's another lesson that the teacher cannot take full credit for a rapid learning process.

But it made me reflect on the cycling skill as a very visible one and hence easy to explain what you learned: I learned how to cycle. This in contrast with what I have learned over the past year about blogging for instance. While cleaning my folders, I found a discussion I had with Beth Kanter not even a year ago, on blogging, when she stimulated me to start one during the online facilitation workshop where we met. During the year I learned a lot, not only about how to post and how to install a sitemeter, but also about the blogosphere, blogging 'cultures' (whenever you can provide a link, do so) and a lot of things which are even harder to express, like fiddling with the tools made me more audacious with other online tools, or like not being embarrassed. And sometimes I talk to someone about a topic I blogged about, and maybe able to articulate my thoughts much more clearly. At time I feel the same while working with a younger colleague. It is then, that I realize how much I have acquired/changed over time.

So why am I saying this? Partly to be able to show this nice picture (some of my postideas start with my visualisation of a picture) but also because I notice so often that it is hard to talk about knowledge and know what people can contribute, or articulate what you or your organisation can bring to the process. It is in the contrast with other people (working or talking with them) or with yourself in the past, that this may become more visible.


John David Smith said...

Great picture, Joitske. And thanks for mentioning it because otherwise I would have read your post in bloglines and missed it. Not sure why pictures don't come though sometimes, but sometimes do.

Joitske said...

Thanks! I think it takes some time before it shows up in bloglines, but it eventually does.

Marnix said...

My oldest daughter (6) is currently learning cycling too, so I recognize the situation.
The most relevant observation I found in this post is 'the teacher cannot take full credit for a rapid learning process' ... thanks for this one.

Joitske said...

Hi Marnix, that's nice that your oldest daughter has almost the same age (Sil is 5), in my case, the second child has often taught me that I'm not the natural talented parent as I thought after successes with my oldest daughter!

hoong said...

I used to think my teachers (from primary 1 to high school) were great people. Then I became a trainer myself. Then I thought, wow, to be a GOOD teacher, should be classed as one of the most difficult profession. And I was teaching adults where responsibility of learning is actually in the hands of the learners.

But is it really true that learning is in the hands of the learners? And we hear so much of learner-centered learning is a better way of learning. In my opinion, if we want effective learning (or knowledge transfer for the same token), it is a push-pull relationship between teacher and learner. If the teacher's intention is to make sure the learner learns, then it would be the responsibility of the teacher to understand why, how the learner learns best. And the learner's responsibility is not just sit and listen, but to start asking questions, to make sure the teacher understand WHY you are not learning, or why you think his/her ways are better, for examples.

We also have the misconceptions that experts JUST know how to transfer knowledge. Bear in mind many of the experts do not have teaching skills. On the other hands, learners should be 'taught' how to ask smart questions. Questions that would 'drag' the knowledge out of the experts.

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