an “A” for learning

I wonder, is it taboo to talk about learning while enjoying the first days of summer vacation? Despite the urge to power down the brain for the summer, I can’t help but think about learning. I am not an expert in teaching or the methods of acquiring knowledge but I have discovered the what I’ve started to consider the “A” of learning.

Based on the circles I run in, I have to disclaim that the “A” of learning is not a grade. Sure, as a student, I wanted that kind of “A.” And do I expect that of my kids? Sorta but that is a long discussion for another time.

Maybe you are more hip to the process of discovery in learning, the “aha moment.” I’m talking about the instant the clouds part and sunbeams illuminate the solution to the problem or the clarification of a concept. All the while, heavenly creatures are singing the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Go ahead, do a few fist pumps while you’re at it.

Sorry, that’s not the “A” I’m talking about either. When I learn, inevitably have the “AARGH!” That is the point in time when I pull my hair, throttle the project or very maturely have a tantrum. I declare defeat or utter hatred. I rationalize that quitting is the only viable option.

Just when I’m ready to leave it all behind, I do one of two things (1) call it a day or (2) talk to my husband. These options are fatal for the “AARGH!” I take a breath and step back. I put it on the back burner. A new day brings freshness and perspective. Time, sleep and distance: they work wonders.

Sometimes the “AARGH!” is persistent. A good night’s sleep has not shaken the feeling of failure. The circumstances are still daunting. In this case, option two is activated: I process it with my highly logical and rational husband. We assess reality, instead of my conveniently edited version. Emotions are acknowledged but not given the driver seat. I can consider my next steps and, more often than not, I see how to persevere.

I dislike the “AARGH!” but realize I can’t truly learn without it. That is, I can’t learn hard lessons and reap the rewards. I’ve always preferred to be the type of person that was instantly good at whatever I tried. In a few cases that is possibly true. If I were to be honest with myself I’d admit that my path has been littered with “AARGH!” I don’t wish it on others but see those moments first hand with my family. I know it is good for my kids and I fight every urge to wash away the “AARGH!” For in due time, they will also reap the reward.

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