Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Gem of a Learning Cycle

Fellow peeps. And I mean EVERYbody.  As in, fellow people of the community, of the world, even.
Yes, you.
If you’re feeling frustrated and wondering and bemoaning how education has gotten to “this point” (whatever “this” may be; I’m simply paraphrasing conversations and media proclamations), take heart. You’ve got the power to make a positive difference!

Who? Me?
Yes, you.

Case in point.
Kevin is a guide and my son’s new friend from this summer. We met him at Sandy Bottom Trail Rides in the mountains of NC not long ago. Unassuming, quiet, and I doubt he would ever consider himself a teacher. But teach he does, and did, with absolute aplomb.
Kevin and Ian, bonding over mutual interests within minutes.
My normally super shy 7 year old blossomed and became a little question/ conversation machine around Kevin, as I watched with amazement. Ian was enthralled, focused, and mesmerized during our trail ride and gem mining experience, thanks to Kevin, who produced a gem of a learning cycle.

He forged a relationship with my son (which earns “community” with me, by default), by talking to him as a young man, by being genuine and not pushing too hard. He was quiet and soft-spoken, but obviously kind, patient and knowledgeable.
Riding close, chatting, and soaking in some glorious NC mountain views.
He conducted frequent check-ins with Ian by asking if he was ok, and pointing out interesting things along the trail. Ian rode as close as possible to Kevin, and after some built-in “wait-time”, letting the experience and scenery process, he began firing questions at him—How long have you been doing this job? Do you enjoy it? What do you like most about it?
This was a very comfortable 7 year old, one that I had never witnessed.
We arrived at our gem-mining spot—did you know that North Carolina is one of the few places in the world for garnet mining?

And so the learning ramped up. Kevin and Ian got right to business—first with a demonstration of how to find the rocks with the garnets, 
then how to chisel/ hammer them out,
giving Ian the first one (and subsequent others) he found that day.

Demonstrating.
Guiding work.
Releasing for independent work.
Nourishing community.
Experiencing "flow" and losing track of time.
Collaborating when needed.
Taking the time to patiently answer questions.
Finding success. 
Sharing joy and passion.
(and hey, no bubbling or formal testing!)


When it was time to hit the trail again, Kevin went to untie the horses, while Ian washed his gems in the stream.

We saw two women coming down our way with a girl slightly younger than Ian and overheard them wondering where to go to find the gems. Ian—infused with confidence—showed them where we had been digging. Led them there, actually, and showed them what he had learned. A mini-lesson of golden (gem-like) proportions.
As we got ready to go, they thanked him, and he reached into his pocket, pulled out one of his largest garnets then passed it to the little girl. 

Much like Kevin had done an hour earlier.

And thus, a learning cycle began its spiral, having gone around once, it had already begun anew.

Never underestimate what the power of your passion can do for others, fellow peeps. The world is watching, and oh-so-many are learning. You have gifts to give, with learning embedded in the most wondrous ways. 

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