About seven years ago, I successfully ran a full marathon in under 3 hours and 19 minutes. For someone who was not athletic and had lost a lot of weight, this was quite an accomplishment. One of the things that I distinctly remember about that event was when people were amazed at the accomplishment and would often say things such as, “Wow…that must have been such a hard race.” I remember telling them that it was not actually the race that was hard, but it was the training. The race only happened on one day but I had trained for over four months, running (literally) thousands of kilometers in the process. I would wake up often at 5 am and go for some short (20 k) runs and I would often spend Saturdays running training distances over 30 kilometers. I am literally exhausted thinking about it right now and do not know how I ever did that.
From the training, I remember one day when I decided to try my hand and running 36 kilometers with no water. This was an extremely stupid idea. I ran 18 kilometers one way, and then about 10 the other. Leaving me about 8 kilometers in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road. My legs could just not run anymore. I had to go to a farm house and ask to use their phone when they asked me, “Did you car break down?”, and I had to sheepishly tell them that, no, I just could not run anymore. I called a friend who came and picked me up from the side of the road and took me to the hospital to treat me from heat exhaustion. I learned to run with water after that day.
It is nice to look back and laugh at that moment now because I came out okay, and eventually ran a great race. But how many people knew about the major failure that I had that day? How many had just assumed that I was extremely athletic and running had come second nature to me? My physical education teacher knew that I could barely do the “12 minute run” in our Canadian Fitness Testing program (the worst week in gym class ever).
Tie that to our classrooms. How many of our students think that we just “know” things because we are adults and it just comes to us? I have repeatedly stated that we need to make our learning transparent to our students, but I think it is essential that we know it is the process of learning that we need to share, not only the product that comes out of it. Blogging has taught me a huge amount of humility as I often receive messages about grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, but it has also taught me that an idea sitting in my head will only lie there dormant. For it to grow, and to take advantage of the vast knowledge of people that I am connected to (online and offline), I need to share the process of what I am learning. In this “publish then filter world” that Clay Shirky talks about, I have realized that the world is very forgiving of the mistakes when they see the effort.
As educators, we have to really try and push through the idea that things have to be perfect before we can “release” them to the world. When we truly trust others, we know that they will help us along the process and be comfortable with us falling/failing on the way to whatever we are pursuing. We need to realize that when we are waiting to release the “perfect” product, others will still think it is not perfect, and they could have probably been just helping you a long time ago.
We need to remember that the process of learning is much more important for our kids to see than the product of our learning.