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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Learning Outside Your Comfort Zone | Teaching Professor Blog

Photo: Maryellen Weimer, Ph.D.
summarizes, "When we learn something outside the comfort zone, we attempt to acquire knowledge or skills in an area where we’re lacking. Part of the discomfort derives from learning something we anticipate will be difficult."

Photo: The Teaching Professor Blog

We have no idea how to do it, or we think it requires abilities we don’t have or have in meager amounts. Moreover, poor performance or outright failure lurk as likely possibilities. In other words, it’s going to be hard and require concentration, and what we’re struggling to do, others can accomplish beautifully, seemingly without effort. Their skills, and our obvious lack of them, raise questions about our merits as a learner and maybe even our worth as a person.

The Teaching Professor Blog

A colleague wrote of her efforts to master Italian, “I’ve been reminded about how difficult learning can be when you step out of your comfort zone and learn a skill for which you don’t have any particular aptitude. I’m NOT a language person, so as I’m learning Italian, I have to repeat words approximately 850 times before I have even a chance to recall and use them. I’m trying to practice what I preach for students and approach this with a growth mind-set!” Another colleague on sabbatical is taking a course on mentoring and coaching that includes demonstration of these newly learned skills. “I am learning so much and am feeling the pressure that comes when you have to demonstrate something you’ve just barely learned,” she noted.

I wonder if learning outside the comfort zone isn’t especially difficult for faculty. Theoretically, it shouldn’t be. We’ve devoted years to learning, but most of what we know resides in one area. We’re experts at learning more about what we already know and love. And we’re used to having our learning expertise recognized—by students, colleagues, and sometimes even at home. However, plop us down in a discipline unlike our own, task us with learning a skill we don’t have, and suddenly, we look and act exactly like our students. And that’s the very reason this kind of learning has all sorts of positive implications for teaching. It’s good every now and then to be reacquainted with feeling stupid.
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Source: The Teaching Professor Blog


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