From trying out an instrument to mastering a new language, share a story about a time you set out to learn something new.

I always thought I had a good ear — until I decided, as a wide-eyed college freshman, to take Intro to Music Theory. It turned out there’s a wide gap between being able to read notes and successfully following the intricate rules of diatonic harmony, and the gap got wider with every passing week. I’ve never been prouder of an A-. (Or was it a B+?)

Learning and its challenges were on my mind recently when I interviewed Ben Orlin at Discover. Ben, who blogs at Math with Bad Drawings, is a UK-based math educator. On his blog he uses his signature (snarky) stick figures to make a point about numbers, teaching, and all the things that can go wrong in the transmission of knowledge.

Ben Orlin 3

Drawing by Ben Orlin.

At a certain point he spoke about the value of mistakes — how meaningful they can be to the person who makes them (as well as to the one who’s there to correct them):

An error isn’t just a blemish we need to erase: it’s the outward signal of some inner thought process. If I can help a student unpack their own thinking, then they’ll learn to inspect ideas more closely, and absorb them more deeply.

This made me think of so many moments from my own life as a student and (formerly) a teacher. The awkward silence before the first person dares to answer a question. Those “eureka!” moments when things click (even if they fall apart again later). The alternating waves of thrill and boredom that accompany the long process of learning, whether you’re in school, self-taught, or somewhere in between.

For this week’s challenge, share a story (in whatever medium, format, or genre you choose) about learning something new. What were you trying to accomplish? Was it a success or a flop? Has that knowledge stayed with you, or is it buried deep in your brain’s dusty attic?

Don’t limit yourself to experiences from brick-and-mortar classrooms — we learn in so many different environments and from so many different people, so an enlightening conversation with your grandmother is just as welcome as a recap of your adventures in the library stacks.

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  1. Blogging. I’ve always been able to express my thoughts, but learning how do so in a manner that helps other people has been a growing process for me. I love that I can make an impact through my perspective.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The way you have described the learning process is amazing.. The methods of learning have changed and also that the people wanna be taught in a interesting and fun way is clearly depicted in what you wrote. its a true inspiration for me as I have started a new bolg myself. I just loved the your ease.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For me, it was learning to teach teaching. As in, training English-language teachers, using own knowledge and experience of teaching English. It’s tough, and something I’m still in the process of discovering. One of the trickiest aspects for me is discovering the key to good teaching, and communicating. I consider myself a good teacher, but I find it hard to define what makes me so. But the part I’m most wary of is trying to mould people into me. It’s so important for a teacher to be confident and act naturally, so you don’t want to be too hands-on in your guidance, so you let the person blossom. Perhaps a horticultural metaphor is appropriate, you need to find a balance between guiding someone down a useful path, but letting them figure themselves out.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Very interesting article. I am a violin teacher and often think about methods of teaching when trying to parlay a particular technique to a student. There can be no one size fits all method that is for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Teaching something is the best way to learn something.
    I’ve recently gotten into issues etc regarding sustainability…
    some articles just don’t make sense so I’ll have to research in-depth to really backup what I’m thinking.
    My blog is just to monitor to learning process.
    Hope to teach someone about things I like to learn about 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I absolutely love the introduction of this post, the talk about music and notes and musical theory.

    Just spot on! haha the introduction of this blog is probably at the level of the best pieces I have ever written lol!

    Good on you hah!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Can some one help me? I am new to blogging and would like to to respond to the daily prompt but I can’t seem to figure it out. Thank you to anyone who can help.


  8. As a teacher, I always try to make sure that my kids know how to access the ‘real world’ as well as the curriculum based information that is required through the state. Kids should know how to fill out a resume just as much as they know how to properly use an adverb.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. After taking a little bit of money for over 40 years for doing something I never wanted to do in the first place, I don’t mind saying that I have a goodly number of friends who decided to do the same thing they caught me doing on a daily basis and continue to do so. They often remark that they finally figured out what the hell I was talking about. I used to tell parents that if the kid came home and talked about something they were proud of I didn’t mind being held responsible, but if it was something the parents didn’t like, I wasn’t to blame.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. hi. like learning about word press, pity there’s no more accessibility settings for settings for different fonts, and to say what the foreground and background color, as screen readers cannot read text inside images, graphics, or screen shots. no text to grab on to. also, what about saying able to use other formats for having contents on free sites, like php, my sql, visual basic, c #, want to put up a student site and a blog, show off my student web and programming projects. so, do have a contact call centre, i did for my diploma of software development from http://wsi.tafensw.edu.au, and from http://www.upskilled.edu.au. any comments, and maybe once i have done the basics of learning, maybe some one can who is sighted, take a look, then give me some tips, just learning. thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment and for your valuable feedback. We certainly work on improving our accessibility settings on WordPress.com, but we know this is still a work in progress.

      If you go to the following support page, you’ll find more resources regarding accessibility on our platform, as well as a link that would let you contact our Support team to report issues as you encounter them:

      Liked by 1 person

  11. As a student of this universe, I feel that everyday is a new class session for me as we can’t expect all the things that are going to happen in our life but we can learn from them. My grandpa used to say that when you want to have something that you crave for try to respect it and earn it.
    I just say that if you are older or younger never just give up their may be up’s and down’s in our life. Think that they are the lessons and learn from them it may not be useful for now but it will be useful in our future..

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Observing and absorbing life, collecting knowledge along the way, selecting what’s best and keeping what is needed disregarding the rest.

    This is what I wrote as an intro in my profile. Life is a never ending learning process from the moment we are born till the day we die. People constantly evolve and the only constant in this world is changes. We have to adapt with the situation in order to survive.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I love learning – every day presents such fabulous opportunities – even the terrible days. But it scares me too… just by the momentous volume of things I don’t, and could never hope to, know. But I’ve learnt that it’s okay to be scared. So now I’m back to loving learning again…

    Liked by 1 person

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