As schools return to session this fall I have noticed a renewed interest in what learning “looks like”. With this in mind, it seems fitting that I sit down to write this story the evening before I go back to work. Indulge me as I explain how I spent the weekend trying to install a stereo in my vehicle and I have found myself reflecting about this experience.
Yesterday was a beautiful Saturday. I have had a stereo and cd changer from a previous vehicle that I have been meaning to install for a couple of years but simply never made the time. With little else planned I figured I could enjoy the sun and install the stereo myself.
There are two pieces of knowledge that this experience has reinforced for me. The first, is just how easily one can access so much information on the internet. After a few variations of my Google search I had all the instructions I needed to remove the existing stereo and install the new one. Finding these instructions so easily has reminded me about the need for us as educators to ask the right questions. Much has been said about questioning in our classrooms and it reminds me of something I have heard more than once: if our students can answer our questions using Google, then maybe we need to rethink our questions.
I have to admit, that the process wasn’t quite as easy as reading the instructions and simply taking action. I have only a small amount of experience working on cars and as a result I probably could have prepared myself with all that I needed before starting to work. As the process evolved I found myself getting stumped, needing a specific tool or piece that would help with the next step. As a result of these needs there was more than one trip to different stores to retrieve the required materials.
As I drove the first time I was proud of myself for the progress I had made and felt that the purchase was a small price to pay for the feeling of satisfaction I would get a completing my task. The second trip, I was asking myself if I should just book an appointment to have someone install this for me. I talked myself out of that, determined to finish what I had started. While driving out for the third time, I became convicted to complete this job because I had learned so much as a result of running into problems, trying to solve them, then moving on to the next step and repeating the routine.
The thrill of learning something new, as I was experiencing it, despite the set-backs along the way, kept pushing me to get this installation finished. I worked until it was dark, ensuring that all the wiring was correct, I didn’t want to stop but was forced to without the light. First thing in the morning I had done all I could do and yet I couldn’t get any sound. Finally, I had to get some installation advice from an expert. What I learned was that somewhere along the way, the amplifier had blown and the stereo would never work.
When I returned home I went back to work to re-install the original stereo. This process was much quicker than the previous day and although I was disappointed about the stereo not working, I felt strangely proud at how adept I had become at working with the car electronics and components.
This brings me to the second thing that this experience has reminded me of…the process of learning is so much fun. Even though I did not get the final outcome I originally set out to achieve, I felt that I had learned so much that I enjoyed the entire experience. When I heard the sound coming out of the speakers I had a strange sense of accomplishment.
I opened this post thinking about the question of what learning “looks like” and I hope that my Stereo Story gives you a glimpse of what it can look like. As schools return to session, let’s look at beyond the end result of a finite answer and provide opportunities for students to have experiences that give them a love of the process.