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Monday, August 10, 2009

Compelling Learning

I loved two of my really hard Bible classes in college.

For one of them I had to read through the whole Old Testament and take notes on each chapter (things like questions I had based on the text, themes I saw developing, etc). By the end of the semester I turned in a 140 page single spaced 8pt font document. It was insane.

The first day of the other class, my professor said, "I'm going to tell you what the final will be so you can start preparing now. You will write down everything you've learned about the book of John. You will basically recreate your course notes in three hours."

I worked my tail off in those classes, and I loved them.

Other courses were far less compelling and I complained about how much work I had to do. But for some reason, I was happy to plow through these courses despite the insane amount of work.

Why?

That's what I'm trying to figure out at the moment for a "next gen" project we're working on. I've jotted down some ideas, but I'd love to hear any insights you've had from situations where you've been happy to learn the material despite the difficulty. Some of the factors that have made me happy to work were:

  • The hard work was just expected (no apology)
  • The content was good
  • I could tell the professors cared about me
  • I could go and chat with my professors if I wanted to
  • I felt like I could make progress

So what about you? Have you had a time when you've had to work really hard but did it happily? What caused that? What made the effort worth it?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

7 comments:

Mrs. C said...

YAY! Your screen is all fixed. It looks much better now. :]

mom said...

I think anytime you run across a topic you are REALLY interested in you will be willing to invest lots of time and energy into it. Such as when we were checking into homeschooling back in the ancient days. I gobbled up everything I could on the topic underlining and taking notes like crazy.

BUT perhaps in your situation it was totally different anyways because you were digging deeply into God's Word and whenever I do that I can't stop! The Holy Spirit just grabs a hold of you and keeps pouring knowledge into you.

Cool :-)

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

mareserinitatis said...

I know what you mean. That's what my emag classes were like when I was working on my MS. Having an instructor that cares is important. The other thing that I found personal helpful is having someone who communicates the concepts well, as well as their enthusiasm for the topic. One of my hardest undergrad classes was emag. I loved the topic, but the professor I has major problems communicating topics clearly, which made the class miserable. So the classes I loved the most were the ones where I felt like I was learning a lot of good info because of the clear explanations of the teacher.

mareserinitatis said...

Ooops...better add that emag = electromagnetics.

Shauna said...

I took an advanced economics class at my university that was taught by one of the best teachers I ever had. He really knew what he was talking about and had a way of explaining complex concepts in a way that made them make sense. He also had a great sense of humor and was a good storyteller; who knew economics could be so entertaining! It was a difficult class, but I enjoyed the challenge and had to work hard to do well. He gave real-life examples as much as possible and showed us how to apply the information, not just learn a bunch of facts.

I remember taking his final, which was entirely essays. When he said he would give us 3 hours to finish, I thought he was joking, but the questions required a lot of thought and multiple pages to answer, and quite a few of us took all of the time allowed to finish writing. There was something very satisfying about turning in that exam, though it was the hardest test I ever had to take. I essentially had to explain in my own words everything we had learned throughout the semester. I knew I couldn't bluff my way through it and give the impression that I knew more about the subject than I actually did (which I had successfully done before in other classes, including a literary analysis of a book I didn't even finish reading!).

Julie said...

I remember a few challenging projects in college and what made them exciting ...
1. Expectations were clearly laid out.
2. I had a choice of topics OR a choice about the direction I would take the topic OR the format in which I would communicate my findings. I knew the project was unique to me.
3. I knew the professor would examine the project in detail - not just quickly scan my paper and scribble a grade at the top.
4. I felt like what I learned was meaningful .. something that would/could change my life or someone else's.

Luke said...

Mrs. C, I didn't change anything on my blog. But it looks better now? Cool!

Tammy, I agree: What interests you is super compelling <smile>.

Cherish, you're right! Enthusiasm and clarity. Totally <smile>.

Shauna, I had the same experience in my 3 hour final. Making learning fun is a huge part of being willing to push through the difficulty. Thanks for sharing your insights!

Julie, those are very good points. Having a professor who cared enough to check the work and give feedback was huge. I got several papers back with nothing but a check mark at the top... ugh.

Thank you all, again, for your wonderful feedback!

~Luke


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