I enjoy reading. I also enjoy learning new things.
But sometimes my brain just gets fried by new information and it takes time to process ideas. Recently I have been researching several topics of interest; auditory processing and memory, learning and exploring with gifted/unusual students and process vs. experience based learning. These three topics are of particular interest to me as they have current practical application in my studio.
I look forward to sharing with you my discoveries in the coming months. At the moment, I’m still researching, processing, experimenting with ways to include these discoveries in my teaching and analysing the results.
Sometimes changing the way you think and do things is uncomfortable. The old ways are practiced and easy. Playing old repertoire is easy and relaxing, but playing the same old tune is somewhat limiting. There would be so much missed if we only focused on what we could already do. So many beautiful pieces left unplayed. Just as new repertoire requires exploration and practice, so to do new behaviours and processes.
To try and ease the initial discomfort, I have a file on my phone that I jot down ideas or snippets of information that capture my attention, those warranting further exploration. This list is normally quite long. Not everything gets more attention! These ideas are normally generated from current students, industry magazines, teaching blogs, pedagogy literature, current events and professional development seminars and conferences. Once an idea pops up again, usually I will go looking for more information on the topic. Then it gets its own file where locations of research or people to talk to are noted.
The next step is something similar to a science experiment report. My hypothesis then gets poked and prodded by the research. Does it confirm or challenge the hypothesis? This must be relevant to the student/s I am particularly interested in learning more for. Is it for a student who has a particular learning style? Is there a new teaching idea that looks interesting? Is it likely to be an improvement on what is already in place? This is the stage I am currently at with my ‘change in thinking/doing’. I find this really challenging. Finding and devoting time to question yourself and the way you do things, to actively seek out alternate views and methods. It is a time of what-ifs. Time can often be spent going down one path only to realise that it may not be fruitful. Processing the information and sifting through to find the ideas you want to apply, essentially distilling the information to find the optimal direction to trial with students.
Next I apply the information, does it work for the context I’m interested in (or can it be applied in an alternate context)? Does it work for students? Sometimes this phase can take months to see the results. Sometimes it very clearly works or doesn’t for particular students in just a few weeks.
Then the new successful method/idea is integrated into my teaching for the students it would assist. The ideas what were unsuccessful have at least been investigated and I am aware of why I’m not using it.
It could be about a new book I think looks interesting. In this case the process is quite short. But the topics I’m looking at, at the moment are about the basic building blocks of learning. It challenges the way I think, the way I teach and developing successful learning outcomes for students. It seems that I may need to focus on just one of my building blocks for the time being and see how that pans out. I don’t want to short the circuit or blow a fuse!