Learning is Messy

We have all heard it. Learning is messy. If you are a teacher, you have probably said it to your students, when their frustration level was at its highest. Learning is messy. Sometimes it is tedious. Sometimes, a question seems simple enough, but in the search for the answer, another question arises that must be answered first. Sometimes, the initial question is just the tip of the iceberg of questions with (or without) answers that plummet deeper into knowledge on a topic than one could imagine. The seeker could go the way of the Titanic, being crushed, broken in half, and left to sink. Learning is messy! The seeker could run down the rabbit hole of unending questions and get lost. Teachers see this in their students and remind them – learning is messy. It will be ok. The teacher will help. As a teacher, I likely focused on my teaching and their learning. Often, I would try to shift the iceberg picture they were feeling so acutely. Going down a rabbit hole into Wonderland can be far more preferable. Just as frustrating at times, but a bit more fun, than say, the Titanic.

The reality is, however, I am no different from them. Learning is just as messy for me. I’ve been given a project in my new job. I have been feeling the Titanic analogy rather acutely. It was a visit form a former student today that helped my perspective shift from the Titanic to Wonderland. As I tried to explain briefly what my iceberg was about, she looked a little amused. I realized that I sounded just like my students do when they reach that level of frustration in learning. At the moment this clicked with me, she said something to the effect of “Wow, you’ve learned a lot in a very short time about this.”

Oh. Right.

I’m a Learner, too, not just a Teacher, and learning is messy. So now, armed with my Figment mug of tea, I will jump back into the rabbit hole and continue this journey…into Wonderland. Perhaps I will meet the caterpillar who fervently demands to know who I am. I am a teacher, but I am also a learner…and well, learning is messy. And I do love being on both ends of it.

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