Saturday, 21 January 2012

Oliver Kolker on teaching and learning

This is from November last year, but I think his reflections are interesting:

Oliver Kolker: Teaching and Learning Proocess: ... it was never an issue of getting bored when I had to just walk over and over again.  I knew this was a necessary foundation for the dance and I enjoyed understanding I was building and developing my craft, my footwork, balance, etc… it’s like people approaching this dance with a goal of being good (obviously) but the approach and the goal should be a journey in itself...
This, I think, is important. If you always enjoy where you are, and you also always enjoy improving something, a lot of problems become unimportant, or even fun.

It makes sense to me to think of it as a process of independent research in which you consult, from time to time, anyone you think may have some information that interests you. What works? What doesn't work? What feels good? What depends on what else? In what way is each person's information coloured by their own tastes and limitations, and in how far is it more widely applicable? Like when you study history and you think about primary and secondary sources and their agendas.

You don't expect everyone to say the same thing, and you don't expect one person to give you the whole story. That would be ridiculous. It's not like being at school, where the game is about pretending to do no more nor less than is expected of you by someone else. This is a real thing in the real world, and it's a matter of finding out, rather than studying. If you needed exams and competitions to find out whether you were any good, you'd be doing ballroom.

Kolker (I think he's from New York):

Research - as opposed to just learning - is a process of finding out what it is that you don't know. If that - "what's the next thing I don't know?" is always the information you're looking for, then you make discoveries. This is true no matter what the subject matter. Kolker:
... because at the end of the day when some of us become really good THERE IS NO MEDAL, NO SACK OF GOLD AT THE END OF A RAINBOW OR AND OLD MAN TO HAND YOU A DIPLOMA.

I'm not sure why I would want any of that (although I wouldn't say no to a random bag of gold, I suppose). But, so far, there are lots of very pretty balloons.

That said, there are conditions under which a thoughtful stare and an approving nod can feel like a medal.

I was reading The Economist earlier today; it reviewed a book about people who learn lots of languages. It suggested that those who do this successfully are simply those who find the hard work part of it fun; who enjoy the parts everyone else finds boring. That's probably all the answer there is to this stuff.

Anyway: go ahead and read the whole thing. I haven't presented all his thoughts, nor even the most emphatically expressed.

1 comment:

TwoToTango said...

Smile - now i think i get your point.