1. It took David Bowie 10 years, 6 different bands and 5 unsuccessful albums before he “broke out” with Ziggy Stardust, his first commercial success. Suddenly all his earlier albums, those failures, became popular. By the end of ’73 Bowie had 6 albums in the UK charts. An overnight success that took 10 years and lots and lots of iterations to achieve.

    • George

      And basically you just proved my point…I had NO idea about that. Wow. That’s an incredible story. Thanks for sharing!

      • Teresa Murray

        Not really proof of a point.
        I guess like the Beatles, Bowie had to hone his craft. He had to practise for years and years in relative obscurity, as Beatles did in Hamburg, Germany. Actually like all of us need to do.

    • Shauna Cornwell

      I am not convinced that learning from a textbook can be equally as “messy” or can provide the same learning opportunities as when we offer students challenges, or problems to solve or they come up with them on their own. It is when students use essential skills & competencies, problem solve and use the creative process that the deepest learning occurs.

      • Teresa Murray

        What is your evidence/experience for these comments?
        Define your terms.
        What does the last sentence mean?

  2. I’m trying to envision a time when learning is linear and I can’t. Even ‘textbook’ learning is going to have stops and starts, successes and failures. The video (I also saw it for the first time when your brother shared it as a speaker) highlights successes and failures and the messiness of real learning. To ‘acquire knowledge or skill’, we need messiness, wherever it comes from.
    Thanks for your ‘always insightful’ posts, George.

  3. James Jenkins

    I saw Alec show this video at a conference a while back. It is a nice way to look at the process of learning.

  4. “The process is as important, if not more so, than the product. How do you embrace the ‘messiness’?”

    As a math teacher, I think I am uniquely qualified to answer that last question. To answer it, I have to say, “with open arms.”

    Jo Boaler recently started offering (through Stanford University) a free MOOC called How to Learn Math: For Students (https://lagunita.stanford.edu/courses/Education/EDUC115-S/Spring2014/about)

    The third lesson is described as:
    Recent brain evidence shows the value of students working on challenging work and even making mistakes. But many students are afraid of mistakes and think it means they are not a math person. This session will encourage students to think positively about mistakes. It will also help debunk myths about math and speed.

    Dr. Boaler also has a set of classroom norms she shares (https://www.youcubed.org/positive-classroom-norms/)

  5. Ann

    As an ESL teacher, I enjoyed reading this post. In terms of acquiring a new language, one of the biggest obstacles can be the fear of making a mistake. True language progress is made when one is able to apply knowledge, expect the “messiness”, and learn from it.

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