Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Edge

Doug Kelsey recently wrote a piece about Three things that make work and recovering from injuries meaningful. His focus was on physical recovery but I thought his comments about challenge and working at the edge were applicable to learning. He said:
"I refer to this as "edging". Push until you find the edge and then push a little more. Your body will not change on it's own. Sorry but every body is inherently lazy; always seeking the path of least resistance; spending the least amount of energy possible. Edge, edge, edge."

Isn't this also the space where learning takes place. As a teacher, I am constantly trying to get my kids to step up to the edge. I was demonstrating some simple animation principles in my multimedia class the other day. I was doing it old school, in that I was having the students draw in each frame within the program. One student had some previous experience with animation and knew about tweening or letting the program draw all the frames between two keyframes. This is a great time saver but used in it's simplest form, it looks like a ball floating across the screen. With a few animator tricks (squash and stretch for example) it suddenly looks like a ball bouncing. This young ma wasn't willing to go beyond his comfort level to try out my suggestions. Eventually he got angry that his results weren't as good as the folks on either side of him and he gave up.

My failure was not being able to get him to step up to the edge. To trust me enough to move beyond his comfort zone. It may be that he doesn't trust any teacher. His failure was not taking the chance. Maybe he has fallen off the edge one time too many?

[Image: Flickr: "Cliff Edge": Uploaded on June 19, 2007 by several_bees: Commons-Some rights reserved]

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