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  • Terry Wigmore

Becoming a learner.

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

Feb 1/18

It is important to have the mind of a student, not the student who is bored and really doesn't want to be in the class, but the mind of one who enjoys learning, and who is naturally inquisitive and genuinely wanting to master something, or at least to become better at whatever knowledge or skill it is we are engaging.

One of the ways I enjoy learning is by observing a skill. I enjoy watching YouTube videos where someone is demonstrating a method of doing something. I am not mechanically inclined at all, but by watching instructional videos, I learned to take apart the oven door and clean the glass on the inside of the door, and to reinstall the door. When the process was done and the door was re-installed, and worked, I felt like a magician, "Voilà!" I felt a great deal of pride in that simple accomplishment. Success fuels the desire to learn.

Observing is not enough, though. For me, I know that I learn best when I can be interactive, asking questions of the teacher and having explanations that address my specific questions. Too often, in school, we are stuck in large classes that make addressing individual learning needs a challenge for the teacher. One to one lessons, like a mentorship program, are of premium value, and that is how I am approaching learning the art of wood carving.

I found a local artist whose work in wood piqued my curiosity. I inquired about his journey- the path he took in becoming the skillful artist he is - and decided that I could learn the fundamentals of this skill by spending more time conversing and observing. I inquired about lessons, and we entered into a teacher-student relationship that has forced me to become a student again, watching, listening, asking questions for clarity, and doing the task. The investment the teacher makes in the learner shapes the learning process, too.

The demeanor and energy of teacher flows into the student and becomes attached to the lesson. Good feelings and positive interactions lead the student to want to come to class. If it doesn't feel good, or worthwhile, we will stop attending, and stop the learning.

I am fortunate to have found an excellent teacher, whose teaching style fits my learning style, and that makes me excited, creating a sense of anticipation for the next class. That is when the best learning takes place - when the student and teacher are on the same page, attuned and engaged with the topic, and the lesson becomes almost incidental to the fun and enjoyment of the time spent learning.

There is value to the simple act of handling pieces of wood and using manual tools, but that is a story for another day ;) TW

*Now that the oven is clean, I can put it to use by inviting my mother-in-law to teach me some of her favourite recipes, starting with her buttertarts ;)

A photo of the product of my first baking class with my mother-in-law. Sometimes learning with a real person is the best way to learn :)

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