Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Learning to Learn, Learning to Teach

I got my computer back today, with my new hard drive and without all my information! I guess I still have a lot to learn about computers and how often one should back up their work!
As I've been working with Gerry Moss through the parts making phase of his chair, I've been thinking a lot about an experience that I had back in the city. It's amazing how much a five minute experience can affect the way one sees things.
I was fresh to New York and fresh on a crew of cabinetmakers installing a large library. One of the crew showed me how to read a spirit level, and much more. I know, it's simple, when the bubble is in between the two lines, it's level. So I thought. First he set the level down on the piece that we were working on and asked me which side was higher. I looked at the bubble and told him to make the adjustment that would bring the bubble between the lines. He then asked me again, which side was higher. Now the bubble was inbetween the lines, so I had to look closer to see which line it was nearer to. Again I told him to raise one side, just a hair. Surely it was level. He then asked me again, which side was higher. So I looked again, closer, and sure enough, I could barely see a difference, but it was there. Again we raised one side and again he asked me which side was higher and I looked at the bubble and there was literally no space on either side of the bubble, it was barely touching both lines. I declared it level and he didn't even check, he just agreed.
Ever since that experience, I've come to understand the learning process and the teaching process as part of the same thing. It's all about asking questions. I still refine my skills and ask my students to do the same by posing the questions that require a deeper look and hopefully a deeper understanding. And the most important lesson that I learned that day is that, in the end, I am all responsible for the final answer to the question "Is it done?" It is that responsibility that has driven me ever since.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The learning process never ends, I continue to learn not only from questions but mistakes as well.Just the other day I drilled the leg holes through the top of the seat, flipped it over to ream from the bottom (got a phone call) then reamed the front legs thinking they were the back legs. My seat blank at this point is square and is not obvious which is front or back from the bottom. Un-drilling a hole is as easy as pushing a rope. You bet I mark the bottom "front & back" now and ignore phone calls during the process.