School as a learning experience LO23282

Leo Minnigh (
Fri, 19 Nov 1999 15:16:40 +0100 (MET)

Replying to LO23260 --

Dear Harriett (LO23222), Johm Gunkler (LO23244),
beste Jan (LO23260), and all other LO'ers,

I should apologise for the delay of my reply. My teachings takes so much
time and energy that more promptness was unfortunately not possible.
However, this has also a good side. I had the time to digest your
contributions and to add some more teaching experiences. I did not sunk
yet in the deep water, I have learned to keep my head above the water, but
you cannot call this swimming. And Harriett :

>In my first year of high school teaching, I thought I would never make
>it. I'd go home, mix a drink and then my husband, also a teacher, would
>tell me: "Look. If you start drinking now because of the classroom,
>you'll never stop. And besides, it's not the cure to the problem." So I
>stopped mixing drinks.

Don't worry, Harriett. My bottle of spirit is filled with curiosity and it
inspired my spirits.

It is good to hear that among you, that there are other list members who
had similar experiences as I have. It is a new world for me to discover.

As Harriett said:

> And they need to feel secure, safe to take risks. And they need to feel
> supported.

And Jan Lelie:
> 1. Do not try to solve the paradox. Learning itself is paradoxically,
> because learning in order to control behaviour inhibts learning. But in
> your case, you're not out to control their behaviour: they want to learn,
> so they'll have to behave.

I realise this more and more: the importance of structure. I was already
aware of this importance in the realm of the mind: structuring your own
and other's thoughts and thinking directions. However, you both stressed
this point too to the behavioral and physical realm. And the fact that
learning itself is a structured process either is ofcourse of something
whivh we never should forget.

As a great example of this, John Gunkler mentioned an experience of John
Holt in his contribution.

John, because of economic reasons, I have not copied your example. But it
is great, and I hope that readers have noticed it in LO23244 (it is the
demonstration of the learning process by the teacher, using a flute). This
message triggered a lot of thinking with me and I am still looking how I
could use in some way this suggestion. But I am keen to copy your last
sentence, because it could be (or should be) the adagium of all learning

>John Holt thought (I think correctly) that it might be more useful for
>them to see a model of how to learn rather than a model of someone who
>had learned already.

Jan Lelie continued:

> 2. At first i also hesitated to be rude. But if that is the only language
> they understand: use it. When in Rome ... .I once observed a Physics
> teacher who ruled a class very very strictly, you don't want to know. His
> word was The Law. In another class he was completely different. So
> structuring is relative to context and has nothing to do with yourself.

The differences between different classes is a thing that I observed and
felt too. I start to change my way of teaching and behaviour now. Thus
using different languages in different classes. I slowly succeed, and it
seems to have some success.

> 3. Reactions of others - including this one - do not tell anything about
> you. They only say something about the other. People only can say things
> about them selves and young adults are very explicite. You probably know
> this, and do not want to be rude yourself. You're not, when you know
> you're not rude and choose to act rude. The problem is that children,
> pupils will know when you fake. So you'll have to accept that you may be,
> that you can be rude also. Everybody is sometimes, when provoked. Allow
> yourself to impose your rules.

I have learned now in some way to change my behaviour. In the adult world
one has to camouflate one's angre sometimes: keep smiling. This behaviour
is somewhat artificial, but has its advantages. Last week I have seen that
showing my angre is the thing that the kids expect and accept. So now and
than I let flow a small portion of my angre in the classroom or towards a
specific child. And it works. But I sencerely hope that I keep this kind
of behaviour and attitude limited to the classroom. Avoiding it to pop up
in the adult world.

> 4. The first level of learning is action-reaction, getting short term
> results. The difficult part is postponing short term results, getting to
> higher grounds. Most people stick to the first level, perhaps because, i
> suppose, they do not trust themselves. Basically i think that young adults
> not even trust their own body (it is developing new features), so
> naturally, they only trust results they can experience right away. So stay
> with short term results: order and structure. That is how i frame the
> reactions, the mixed messages you told about.

Yes, I have learned this aspect earlier from this list and I keep this in

> Hope it gives some support,

(that was Jan) and Harriett:

>Anyway, good luck with your classes. 26 adolescents is a real test, but
>showing them you care -- by ensuring them an optimum learning environment
>-- is all they ask and all they need. Once they know you mean business
>and follow through on the expectations you set, then you're in great
>shape to take them to the next level where you can be more of a team.

Thank you. You helped me with my reflections and strugle.

Last week things went much better, despite a conflict in one of the
classes. I still enjoy this work. But I am glad that it is a temporary
job. It consumes much energy, but again, it is an unpayable learning
experience! An experience that has to be felt and undergone by myself.
Books and suggestions are good, but practice is better.

dr. Leo D. Minnigh
Library Technical University Delft
PO BOX 98, 2600 MG Delft, The Netherlands
Tel.: 31 15 2782226
Let your thoughts meander towards a sea of ideas.


Leo Minnigh <>

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