In writing this article, I can in no way speak for everyone. I can only share the experiences I have been privy to. Decades of learning and teaching, along with hobbies and other responsibilities have helped me, and others, grow in understanding the simplicity of learning.
I am always reminded of Beethoven, that fellow who saw a keyboard and it just made sense to him. To Cesar Millan, he looks and dogs and their owners, and it just makes sense. I look at kids, and they just make sense. I look at a horse, and it just makes sense. Some pilots look at planes, and they see it all. We all have that to one degree or another. And some of us find it, and others may not, though it’s there if they look for it. I’ve found that some people never see it, or when they do, don’t recognize it for what it is: understanding.
I think teaching at summer camps was key to opening my eyes (This and the second stint at college). Due to the positive outlook of the owners, that they “saw” something in me as they saw in others (and I see it in the kids), that they loved the idea of spontaneous learning and trying your hand at anything, I experienced something many have not, but is also seeming to be lost in our country. Self-reliance. Learning anything in your own time. Just try it.
Not to belabor the point, but often times we are our own road blocks. Do you know what happens when you give over your trust to someone else to learn? You forget that you have all that you need. Yes, we learn from others. We learn from their experiences. Want to learn Karate, find a black belt instructor who knows how to transfer his understanding to you. But if we apply understanding and self-reliance, we learn much quicker.
At one summer camp, I worked with others in teaching beginning horseback riding. However, one day, the owner’s first in command asked me to help a lady teach trick riding. My job was to hold the lead rope (attached to the horse) while the instructor went with the student round and round, teaching him/her how to do tricks (i.e. sit backwards, lay backwards on the horse, spin, stand on the saddle, and much more.) So, I observed but was careful in my job, knowing to support a calm horse. I was always looking for any danger, to be ready in any case.
A day or so later, they asked me to run a beginner’s trick riding course, alone. I thought they were crazy. I had no training. All I had was a couple of days holding the rope. They told me the instructor knew I could do it. So, I did. Easy. No books to pour over. No classes to attend. No videos to watch. No program. Just do it.
You see, what I learned, which I always had, and which we all grow up knowing, but we’re systematized in every walk of life, is that “we” can “see” the answers. This curriculum. That book. Those self-help books. These steps. Whatever happened to innate knowing? How would Beethoven have done if he had to be trained? He just went to the keyboard and knew. But, our insurance requires this much training and these certificates? Really? How many people out there can teach having never gone to college? A friend, a business owner, I had teach another student about business. In that one hour, the young man learned more than his one year of business class. Why? Because the business owner lived business and would only explain the practical reasons. What worked. What actually takes place. And his innate knowing.
Those of you hoping for your children to learn well. Look at your children as they are: not as books tell you. “See”, really see them, as they are. And be willing to challenge them, to work on projects together, and get them trying things they might not otherwise do if we have to study everything. There’s something each and every one of us has that we can tap into and learn without memorizing. I never memorize. Used to. Never again. I look to understand.
Over the years, as a teacher, I saw the more I did for the kids, the more they struggled, or got bored. I also saw that some had learned helplessness: learned helplessness. It they had problems, there were programs and classes for this and that. And sometimes, extra time and classes are needed. But often, a connection is lost between the student and their innate understanding. So, my hopes was to bridge the gap. To bring them back to themselves. To find that innate trust of one’s own understanding.
With time, I worked to teach the kids to think for themselves. However, I realized, I had to show them where it was, and readers can look at other articles on my site. To reiterate, one student said she couldn’t solve some math problems. I looked at her. Watched how she approached the problems. Ahh, I said, you’re using your language brain. To learn the math, after you listen to my lecture and take notes, you must look at the problems as if from a distance. After being reminded a few times, she became a straight A student. I did nothing. All the success was to her. She just realized I wasn’t going to coddle her, that the work would come from her, but that she had what she needed to understand anything. Her success. And, I encouraged her to help another student which helped her self-esteem.