Hang with me as this is shaping up to be the first in a series of posts on education, and learning. At the outset please know that these are my opinions based in part on my experience as a student, and as a teacher, and I welcome conversation. The thinking process of education, learning, learning styles, teaching, teaching style has been on my mind for a long time with a particular focus a couple of years ago when I had a conversation that gave me some insight into different learning styles.
Starting with Thank You
In 2009 I thanked Mrs. Hastings, Ms. Roux, and Ms. Bacon for helping me to understand Algebra. I’m going to add Mrs. Margarones for a great semester in Trigonometry. Junior High, and High School I alternated struggling and breezing through math classes, failing a couple of years in there. Well at least that’s what the permanent record says. At some point I sought out a tutor, what a disaster as the tutor took the same approach, repeating the exact same things the teacher, as if presenting the same information, in the same way over and over again would change my understanding. It didn’t. I failed. The fascinating thing is that when repeating the class I breezed through without studying.
I breezed through without studying.
The aptitude, and ability were clearly there, and I make good use of math in quilting in figuring out yardages, and in flexible thinking. Oh, and I can’t forget the eight grade teacher who, in talking with a parent, shared that 1 plus the [ ] equals 3 and that we’d been learning algebra all along. Whoa.
A couple of years ago while discussing the Block Builder Feature in Generation Q Magazine, the learning process engaged. SaraBeth (not her real name) shared that she didn’t quite get how other quilters got from the original block (a square with lines, and/or shapes) to the finished designs. In full editor, and teacher mode the questions began so I could discover what she needed. If she needed something specific, then others would too. SaraBeth needed to see step outs, and needed ideas for how to fill the space.
Seth Godin is an amazing thinker. In 2012 he gave this TedXYouth talk.
on education. In listening to this and to
Steve Jobs discuss Apple Marketing
the reality of how people learn differently, and how those different learning styles should be honored, and honed dropped like a dime into a payphone. I’m certain people who study early childhood development, and education, psychology, or any number of other fields can offer more insight in this area. SaraBeth learns in an “A, B, C – 1, 2, 3” order which is great, particularly in a public education setting where this style of learning is exalted, encouraged, demanded. I learn in a “give me the general concept, and let me go figure it out, and let me ask you questions when I’m ready” style. In a conventional classroom setting this doesn’t work as it disrupts the flow of information, order of the class.
It’s why when working with that tutor it didn’t work. It’s also why when learning to crochet at the ripe old age of 5 I learned the basic chain stitch and proceeded to make a little pouch. I figured it out. It’s how the concepts learned in the beginner machine quilting class transferred into what I teach now. My learning style transferred as well allowing the opportunity to have an almost individual class for each person in a group setting. Once I give the basic information on needles, thread, tension, and what/why of the motifs we’re stitching and we move into stitching I let you stitch. When you run into a problem, the solution for you might be something different than the solution for SaraBeth. SaraBeth needs 1, 2, 3; you might need 1, 45, 3, 5, 8, 26 or bright blue mockingbirds on a rust green fence in a field next to a barn. While my brain thinks in the bright blue mocking birds, I can see the 1, 2, 3 and offer the solution needed for the person.
Education is the process of absorbing, memorizing information; learning is esoteric, engaging, free, freeing, full of possibilities and wonder.
I’ll be writing more on this soon as it relates specifically to quilting.
Post Script One: The title has to do with my response to Tracy Mooney‘s posting of the Steve Jobs vid: I’m a nonagon trying to fit in a square. While technically the nonagon will fit in the square the nonagon doesn’t fill the space in the same way as another square would so it doesn’t function well for holding things in, or keeping them out. But it does make for an interesting view.
Post Script Two: Why Steve Jobs/Apple when I’m a PC? Because it’s all about the story, the feeling, the experience. It’s all about being unique, and sharing that uniqueness.
Now, go get your quilt on.
3 thoughts on “Be a Nonagon in a Square”
Thank you, Teri. Great column! I’m a leftie, and I’ve learned that I certainly don’t learn the way right-handed people do, nor does “mirroring” work for me (as in sit across from a right-handed person and do the mirror opposite of what she’s doing). One time, though, I sat beside one of my favorite teachers (Suzanne Marshall, who is right-handed) and found that I could translate what she was doing that way. That started me thinking about how I need to translate various instructions to make them work for me. I have to do a new translation for every set of instructions, but I now have some guideposts to start with.
It’s interesting that you say that Robyn – mirroring doesn’t work for every lefty. I love that you write those new instructions so that they work for you, this is akin to translating two different languages at the same time. I’m impressed!