Learning by Doing

Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.
~ Chinese Proverb

I’ve never been one to learn things by reading them.  As much as I love to read books for entertainment – and can read well into the early morning hours, if it’s a James Patterson book – I tend to fall asleep within two paragraphs of a book designed to teach me something.  I don’t even think it’s the dryness of the subject matter.  I could be reading about sewing quilts, or playing video games, and I’d feel bored.

Sometimes I can learn by watching someone do something.  That was how I learned to play Fur Elise (without the fumble, and only the right hand, I still can’t play the left hand).  I even remember learning how to properly shade with colored pencils by watching my art teacher do it in high school, and still use her technique to this day, whenever I draw.  Learning things that way is fairly easy for me, because I’m not over-burdened with detailed descriptions of whatever technique I’m seeing.

The opposite is true for when it comes to receiving too much information at the same time.  I received a promotion once, and the person who trained me not only told me what tasks I was expected to perform, but also wanted to give me the ins and outs of everything about my new job, and how each task affected other roles in the company.  She was someone who preferred to learn that way, so that was how she tried teaching me.  It was a very rough month of training,  because my eyes would gloss over the deeper she’d delve into why this figure was necessary for this presentation, and so on.

Information overload is not good for me.  I’m the type of person that needs instructions as simple as “put this number in that column” for the first few months of a job.  To tell me why that number needs to be in that column overloads my brain and confuses me.  It takes me much longer to learn that way.  Once I’ve been in a role for a few months – and have my necessary functions down to a routine – then I find it very helpful to be told the whys and wherefores of those things.  After my head has grasped my daily duties, it’s free and clear for more information to be added (I realize I’m running the risk of making myself sound like a very slow person, but anyone who knows me knows that’s not the case at all).

There are those who prefer to have a Master’s Degree in a subject before they put any of that knowledge to use; Craig doesn’t like to proceed on something until he’s learned most of what there is to know about the subject.  I, on the other hand, am someone who seems more prone to jumping into the thick of it and fine-tuning things as I make “mistakes” and learn.

Much like the way children learn when they’re young, I seem to prefer the “let’s put this in my mouth and see what it tastes like” approach to things.  Yes, that means I’ve had to take a piece of furniture apart and put it back together correctly, because I hadn’t looked at the instructions yet, but that also offered me the chance to work with tools some more; I’m REALLY in touch with my masculinity in that way.  😉

While learning a topic fully before trying to make a go of it might save me some pitfalls and setbacks, it’s actually those “failures” that help me learn better than anything I might’ve read in some book.  Maybe that means I’m hard-headed, but it definitely works for me.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dana
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:12:46

    Everyone has a learning process that works for them… and I think the sign of a truly excellent teacher of ANY subject is the ability to recognize that and to respect it.


    • Alyx Morgan
      Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:26:20

      I agree, Dana. It’s not easy, I’m sure, for teachers to recognize the differences in learning styles, but when they do (& actually use that knowledge for the student’s benefit) that’s awesome!

      & how COOL that you’ve changed your own water pump! I’ve done brakes, plugs & oil, but not that one. SWEET! 🙂


  2. Dana
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:13:41

    Oh, and I absolutely HATE trying to follow instructions on any sort of device/appliance/etc. I would much rather be shown hands on… which is how I learned to change the water pump in one of my cars!


  3. Dolly Chamberlin
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:21:10

    I, too am a hands on person. You are correct – we who know you, KNOW you are anything but slow. )) LOVES :}


  4. Alyx Morgan
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:29:42

    Thanks for the validation, mom. 🙂 & thanks for stopping by today.


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