Innovative Learning

Education: learning the facts, or the fact of learning? Which is it? Which is it ought to be?

This media class is frustrating in only one way. I have thoughts and ideas every time we talk about something or a discussion is opened up, but they pass through me so quickly that by the time I open my mouth, they’ve scattered. And by the time I spew the bits and pieces of those lightning thoughts, someone else has taken the discussion elsewhere. Rinse, wash, repeat.

It is indeed a thinking intensive course. And to my joy and pleasure, it is now also becoming a creativity intensive course.

I’ve recently been criticized for my perfectionistic tendencies, for striving for a number, for regurgitating what a grader wants to hear regardless of whether I’m thinking about it. Yes I’m more than a number, yes I’m good at figuring out what teachers and professors want so that I can get the grade and dodge the subjectivity bullet… but by no means do I think that the grade is all that it’s about. My identity isn’t in that. At least, not anymore. I’ll admit, it was until I failed something in high school and realized that this was a terrible place to put my identity.

No, I strive for 85+ to challenge myself, to get my money’s worth and to practice putting out work and receiving feedback. How I react to that, is one of many things I’m training for. It also continues to be my litmus test to see if I’m completely out of the grade-identity woods. That being said, it also doesn’t hurt that high grades come with certain privileges. I wish it wasn’t this way… the education system among others, is in need of a paradigm shift, as Sir Ken Robinson would say.

I don’t mean to brag, but I’ll admit that being criticized, almost accused, for being a “good student” is something I’ve never experienced, and it does put some things into perspective. On the one hand, I agree that high grades don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, and so neither should low grades. But on the other hand, after being told to strive, why should I settle for a 70?

Only a few months ago, I was pining for my graduation, wishing school was over. I realized I was getting facts, knowledge, and the “university” experience, but was I really learning? It seemed more like trivia. All my lecture attendances were just so that I didn’t fail the exam at the end, and I knew that I’d forget a lot about what I “learned” in three weeks of winter break. Instead of being at school, I could be writing and honing my craft, getting a more fruitful start on my career. I could apply to one year screenwriting programs that equip you to be ready for the industry. Writing intensive, getting to know people (networking…), learning how to navigate the innards of this beast… what am I doing here?

But going back to privilege, a degree does help. Again I wish it didn’t… the assumption that university is better than college is taken a little too far sometimes. It’s certainly different, but some careers are better suited for different formats of training (i.e. hands-on vs lecture halls).

Of course, the lessons I have retained and truly learned have been valuable. They have been like sifting for gold in the sand, the grit being the myriad of facts that escape me. Bottom line, despite everything, I’m here to stay.

We were asked what we liked about this media course… for one, I think I’ve kind of been doing this self-reflective thing for at least 5 years already. Blogging, writing, analyzing – what does this mean, what does this look like, what am I currently struggling with, what am I thankful for, what have I learned today – this is what fills my journals, physical or digital, and so far that is the class.

What makes it that much more enriching, is that from now on, it is still all of that, but through what I call “anything projects.” Very few instructions, only objectives. Using creativity to show what we learn, rather than adhering to a set of rules to repeat what we memorized. I love these kinds of projects. No restrictions. They are free, they are open, and we are free and open to fail, because failing is a form of learning. The freedom in that is, I dare say, exhilarating. I go all out and I go nuts because I can. To be frank, I want to. I want to see how far can I go creatively, how crazy and how awesome can I get, even if I’m the only one who thinks so. To be able to have fun while learning and growing is a privilege, and I am so grateful for this course.

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