I’ve been thinking about thinking, learning and change a lot lately. I’d started writing a post but got snagged on this thinking about thinking thing again. So I decided to get this stuff off my chest first.
I think that perhaps my thinking about thinking is somewhat flawed – a snapshot into the mind of someone with slight perfectionist tendencies, raised on a diet of critical thinking (not so bad) and most likely saddling a fair share of self doubt that comes naturally to most women. But I figure that if I can dissect it, I can start eradicating the not-so-helpful bits and start honing the good stuff. So here it is, My Slightly Ridiculous Personal Learning Cycle:
Here’s a breakdown of the process:
Critical Absorption: This is the starting point (sometimes…often it starts at the Guilt point). This is where I hear or read lots of new ideas. I call it critical absorption because I reckon I’ve got a pretty good way of sorting the wheat from the chaff in terms of evaluating sources of information.
Ideas Overload: Much in the same way as I approach the salad bar at Sizzler, I stand at the smorgasbord of ideas and binge myself silly. I love it. I’m inspired. I think an MRI of my brain at this point would look like the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
Brainfuzz and Mild Insanity: If Ideas Overload were the fireworks, this phase is the post-firework fog that leaves everyone coughing and spluttering and makes their eyes itchy and watery . There’s been so much zip-zapping around my head that I can’t make any sense of it. Any attempt to make sense of it all just makes me want to go “WAH!” and crawl into the foetal position. I’ve learnt to go and take a nice long bath and get myself a massage at this point
Breathe….and Ponder: Once the fog lifts, I can start making sense of the new ideas. This is rational thinking time, splintering the ideas into pros and cons and interesting stuff. I start thinking about practical applications.
The Bollocks Filter – Grizzletime: This is where I say “Hang on a minute, this idea isn’t all rainbows and sunshine like they’re saying it is”. I start picking at the flaws and sometimes I get really cranky if it’s something that’s being touted as the hot new thing that everyone should be doing. It’s when I unleash the little Oppositional Defiant child within. This is something that I’ve probably always done internally, but have always questioned myself thinking that maybe I don’t understand it fully or maybe I’m wrong. Well, that’s only ever ended in frustration, so I’m learning to conjure the courage to question, clarify and contest.
Dissection Dialogue: This step has changed for me a bit. It used to be a bit of an internal dialogue, but I bit the bullet and now happily bore others to tears with my questions, clarifications and debates. It helps a LOT that there are now online forums in which I can mix with other people who want to be as
boring reflective as me Having this blog also helps…although it’s probably just another incarnation of my internal dialogue, it makes me scour my thoughts a bit more knowing that it’s not just confined to my own headspace and others may see it.
Cherry Picking: Once I’ve had a good rational think, then a good long nitpick, I start to really think hard about how I can use these new ideas in a practical way in my current situation. I cherry-pick the best aspects and find a way to weave them into practice that best suits me and the kids I’m working with.
Kidlet Application: What it’s all about! Applying these ideas in the classroom. I say kidlet application, but it also applies to the application of the ideas of any setting (teacher PL etc.). This step is often a revolving door of do-reflect-tweak-do. A mini-cycle within the cycle.
“Man, I Can Do This So Much Better” Guilt: After a while, with the new ideas implemented, I often get a sense of guilt, even if the ideas and applications have been successful. I think back to the slew of ideas I had back at the beginning and about how much stuff I left out when I ‘cherry-picked’. And usually by this time a whole new batch of ideas and ‘next big things’ have arrived in my inbox to once again make me feel like I’m not doing enough. The cycle begins again.
If a clinical psychologist ever read this, I’m sure they’d tell me I was some kind of oddbod. That’s OK. I don’t mind being odd But I think it’s really important for everyone – teachers in particular – to take some time out and really think about how they think, learn and change. Some might say that it’s a little self-indulgent…perhaps it is. But I think if we map our own thinking/learning cycles – and particularly if we shared them with one another – it would give us greater insight into planning educational experiences for our kids and also help us streamline our own thought processes.
So if you’re one of the 2 people who read this blog post, I’d really love to hear about your own Slightly Ridiculous Personal Learning Cycle.