My foray into yoga has taught me a lot about learning to use technology. The body is an amazing machine that can maneuver unimaginable tangles and twists to stretch muscles, tissues and one’s limits. It incorporates weight-bearing activities forcing one’s body to uphold and balance itself. Each practice is aimed at moving one’s ‘edge’ forward, strengthening bones, core, skeleton, muscles. After 9 months, most postures are seamless for me. There is a short distance between hearing my teacher’s direction and performing the movement. But I am still a rookie, a student with much to learn through repeated practice, focused effort, failure and continued trials.
I’ve learned that yoga causes all body parts to act as ‘one’ – or, if you will, acting toward one unifying outcome or idea. I think about being a principal or a teacher in early stages of learning to meaningfully engage technology for learning and teaching. Initially, there is lack of understanding how all these parts must purposely come together to transform what we know as education. It isn’t turnkey. It isn’t overnight. Educators are attracted and averted to technologies simultaneously. Like yoga, this kind of learning takes patience, focus, time, frustration and perseverance.
Yoga is uncomfortable. Nothing ‘feels’ normal about wrapping oneself into a vine, doing shoulder stands, making the self into a chair and then standing on the ball of one foot. Deep inhales and exhales are crucial to the process so that each movement has intention and purpose. There are parts of my body I had no idea existed let alone understand their function and imperative to well-being.
Mindfulness (a new favorite buzz word) comes into play both in yoga and in the edtech learners’ classroom. How can one make this process his/her own? How can the professional development learning become one’s own? How can we get at the ‘feelings’ adult learners have as they navigate the discomfort of doing something new, foreign to known practice? Communities of learners are crucial to the mindfulness component. Talking, listening and supporting peers not only enhances intentional focus but brings solutions and mutual regard and understanding.
A most significant yoga metaphor for me regarding learning and achievement is the notion of ‘practice’. Each time I come to the mat it is a new day, a new practice. It is personal. I know my ‘edge’; I know my goals; I know my limits and my strengths. I set out anew to continue the journey of learning – not the ‘end game’ of having learned. As perpetual learners, each of us will grow in new ways as our life’s journey continues. For most educators today, using technologies in transformative ways is still and will always be a journey – not an end place.
Further, there is not a finite way to learn or to use education technologies. The options and solutions are as wide as the sky. We used to believe in our ecosystem that there was one way to solve a problem – to demonstrate how we arrived at a supposed correct answer. We now know that is not the case. We know, in fact, that considering multi-alternative solutions and pathways for understanding is a high order skills that ever student will need to be successful in the work place. The same is true for yoga. There are many, many ways to approach and engage a pose or a movement. It is a personal motivation, force and approach that matters deeply to the learning process.
Practicing yoga, adult and student learning have much in common. First, consistently ‘showing up’, committing to the practice is essential. Second, the learning is experiential. One must be ‘doing’ something not regurgitating someone else’s download. Third, risk taking is the order of the day. It is personal. It is challenging. Success, progress, failure, trial and error go hand in hand. Lastly, reframing expectations is important. Each of us learners has unique learning styles, aspirations, pathways, goals. That uniqueness is to be recognized, celebrated and engaged in the learning process. Individual needs trump everyone getting to the same place, progressing at the same pace at the same time.