Recently, my 8-year-old son learned a new skill. The first time he tried, he literally cried out in frustration. My husband and I both told him to try again. By the third time, he made progress and eventually learned the skill. However, his mental frustration during this process was physically evident.
After my son left the room, my husband and I discussed the learning process. We acknowledged that for us personally, learning a new skill is initially frustrating until we become more familiar with the process. As adults, we understand that learning any skill takes time and practice.
Unfortunately, people occasionally forget this normal process or perhaps choose to not learn new skills either from fear of failure or from lack of understanding. Both of these are problematic.
As a teacher librarian, I must continually learn new skills or I am a failure at my profession. The past five years alone have been a continual test in the learning process. From Facebook to Twitter to blogging to creating the newest library web page, my frustration level has been elevated, my understanding of social media has expanded, and my technology skills have grown.
Consequently, I want to share my two lessons learned.
Lesson one: Be a lifelong learner, not a stump.
If the analogy of learning is that of a tree, I want to be the tree that continues to grow new branches and produces fruit throughout my lifetime. I don’t want to be the tree that is cut down for not growing and producing because then all that remains is a stump. I intentionally choose to be a lifelong learner, not a stump.
Lesson two: The learning process teaches empathy.
If I regularly learn new skills where I experience frustration before obtaining mastery, than I am more empathetic to my students who are learning new skills as well. While my 8-year-old verbally cried out in frustration, an 18-year-old may act out that frustration differently. Sharing personal successes and failures of the learning process provides a connection that helps others understand better.
As you take that leap of faith by learning new skills, remember the process that it takes to become proficient and knowledgeable. Be empathetic to others, both young and old, as they broaden their horizons in the learning environment. Ultimately, continue to be a lifelong learner.