Friday, February 26, 2016

Learning Is Messy

I was reading Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. It's a good book for thinking about creativity and being successful in it. I enjoy the book (and Steal Like an Artist) because it is as much visual as it is text. Even a lot of the text is done in a visual way. That works great for someone like me, who remembers things better when he sees them.

As I read through the book, I came across this page. (I photographed the page.)

From Show Your Work, Kleon (Brick by Brick)
from Show Your Work, Kleon

It resonated with me. I'm always thinking about kids' process - it's more important than any product or result. The process is the learning. And the process is messy. Learning is messy.

I'm not sure most teachers or leaders are ready for the messiness of learning. Messiness doesn't fit well in a standardized setting. Learning - in play or a maker space or experimentation - isn't a neat and tidy undertaking.

Ideas are tried. Failure happens. Parts are discarded. New parts are crafted.

reading books (Brick by Brick)

That process happens even if the learning is mostly mental. When reading and truly comprehending, this process happens. A reader will understand through his own background experience, discard a previous understanding because it just doesn't work, fashion new understanding through what he's reading or what's being said by fellow readers, and construct new learning on the spot.

That's messy. That takes time. It takes more than a quick session with the class as the teacher completes a graphic organizer. It may mean backing up and trying again. It may mean that detours are needed. It may mean that the "planned" learning needs to take a backseat to what is being developed on the spot by the learners.


The process is messy. We need to recognize it. We need to be prepared for it. We need to stop ignoring it.

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