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Learning in Freedom

Welcome to Learning in Freedom, a blog all about the learning adventures (and mishaps) of the Allen family. My four children are unschooled, following their interests and passions every day and living the lives of their choosing. The purpose of this blog is to share our every day lives (and my not-so-humble opinons) with anyone interested in stopping by. We hope this will give a glimpse of how natural learning unfolds from day to day......

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Learning by doing

Design by Sierra Allen

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. ~ Pablo Picasso

There is this notion in our society, that one must learn certain things so they can eventually do something worthy. One must learn in little blocks and chunks, information handed to you so that you will be prepared to do something in the future. If an interest swirls up, that is outside of the school curriculum, you sign up for lessons or classes.

You go and learn the thing so you can then do the thing.
But what about doing to learn? What about jumping right in and DOing a thing in order to learn how to do it? What about not knowing the "how" and doing it anyway?

Sounds crazy right? But in the DOing we find the learning. In the doing and mucking and exploration we find our way. We find the people or resources most useful for the exact information we need at that moment. We learn a deeper, richer more meaningful context for the new interest.

Sierra has been a great example of that lately. She dug out the old Serger machine that I inherited and never used last month. She hauled it with us to Asheville, hoping that someone (specifically George) could show her a few tips about using it. Leading up to that date she mucked about with it, took it apart, tried to read the manual and decided that was a waste of time. In Asheville, George showed her enough to have her questions answered (but see, she knew what to ask because she was already DOing!) and off she went again.

Since then, she's starting to sweat thread I believe....
The girl is sewing every day now, altering clothes, making up new things. Some of them work, some of them don't. In the doing of her fascination, she's learning the "how" and which questions to ask. She's learning which resources help her get the information she needs most (hurray for YouTube and video tutorials!) and as she learns more her processes get more refined.

I can't imagine a class that would offer more varied information, more challenge, more satisfaction or more learning.

I could have taken dozens of classes on beekeeping and none of it would have properly prepared me for the actual act of raising bees. Same for gardening, same for cooking, same for makeup artistry....you must be DOing a thing to truly learn it. So maybe that's just the best way to start with anything. Don't try to learn it first....DO it. In the DOing you'll find your way.

"What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing".


Blogger cherapple said...

Wow, this is so where my head is, as I sit down at the computer this morning and your post happens to be the first thing I read. Except that my head is on taking a class, exploring why I enjoyed art in high school, but I was so eager to leave it behind (the art teacher was disappointed when I didn't continue in college) for something more "practical," and I've struggled to much of anything creative since. We've been sewing in our house lately, too, and Andrea creates some pretty amazing stuff without patterns. Sierra's creation is gorgeous (nice photography, too).

9:54 AM  
Blogger Lynch Family said...

I love, love, love this post! Several years ago I decided there were certain skills I wanted to learn. I generally chose a skill per year and just figured it out by DOING. Now canning, gardening, knitting, sewing and myriad other things are part of my life--not because I took a class, but because I did them and asked questions.

Love the clothes, by the way!

12:32 PM  
Blogger LeaAnn said...

I love this post! I wouldn't have the patience to wait on the next lesson, who needs it. It's so much more satisfying when I just do it.

Awesome design Sierra!

4:29 PM  
Blogger Deanne said...

What an amazing design! Inspired and inspiring! :D

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Kendrah said...

I've been thinking that I want to learn sewing lately. Initially, my mind wraps around trying to find a class. I see my children learning by doing everyday, and I do too with certain things. Sewing intimidates me though. Sierra has inspired me to take a different route and just start doing it! Thanks for inspiration.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Ren said...

I think it feels "safe" to take a class because that's what our schooled minds know. It's not always a bad idea but when I look at the cost of the class and whether taking that money and putting it into materials and tools makes more sense, it usually does. It's a bit of a struggle to get through that first bit of learning something new, but it really is worth it!

9:57 PM  

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