I am continually amazed at how learning can take place anywhere, at any time. I was sitting poolside enjoying the sunshine and a pleasant morning. In the pool were three young children with their dad. The children were a bit timid at first with their “floaties” on and hanging on to the side of the pool. They used the steps in the shallow end, and the father told them to swim in the pool and do what they “felt comfortable” doing.
A few minutes later, one of the girls who couldn’t have been more than 5 years old, asks her daddy, “Can we do something we feel uncomfortable doing?” Wow! What a teachable moment, dad! The five year old then learned a valuable lesson when her dad responded with these words. “Well, that’s an interesting question. You should sometimes do things you are uncomfortable doing. It’s only by doing things that you feel a little uncomfortable with, that you will grow and become better.” (Eureka!) With that, the girls began swimming into the deep end, racing one another back and forth the entire length of the pool.
I couldn’t help taking in the father’s words myself and noting how truly profound his lesson was for his daughters, me and anyone else who might have been hearing them. We are always required to stretch ourselves a little bit and step outside of our comfort zone. Sometimes that step can be more than uncomfortable. It can be scary, nerve-wracking, and downright painful, depending on the task.
I would like to pass this father’s wisdom new my new class of students for the upcoming semester. I teach a college online course, “Technology in the Classroom”. Much of the content of the course involves learning new software programs, instructional tools and educational methodology. Some students will come into the class already comfortable on a computer. Others will be novices who are a little weary to press the keys, to explore and see what happens! No matter what the content is in a new course, we are sometimes feeling anxious and a little afraid, because it is outside of our comfort zone. It’s new to us, so we have to stretch in order to grow!
I would encourage all of my students (and everyone for that matter), to do something you are a little uncomfortable doing. For that is the only way that you will grow and become better at it.