ITHACA, NY – After a year exploring the relationship between his study of acting and The Art of Learning principles, Matt Ryan, a senior at Ithaca College, developed an independent study through which he would test his knowledge of these concepts by teaching them to a group of people to whom they were completely unfamiliar.
Over the course of three weeks, Ryan and his cast of seven actors used the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire to explore their own connections to The Art of Learning principles and then present them to other members of the Ithaca College community.
Woven through the entire three-week workshop were multiple opportunities for the actors to practice Learning the Macro from the Micro, Making Smaller Circles, The Power of Presence, and Investment in Loss. Their daily practice involved mindfulness meditation, games that challenged them to stay present within moments they had rehearsed many times before, and frequent reflections on successes and struggles within each scene with an eye toward incremental progress.
The performance itself continued the exploration of Valuing Process Before Results with each actor undertaking some sort of experiment while performing and then breaking between each scene to answer their questions in front of the audience. Ryan explained that the performance had a powerful effect on the audience and the performers, many of whom have been inspired to continue to pursue deepening their own learning processes.
“For me, the biggest thing that I realized through this workshop and my own studies with The Art of Learning was that finding this book was like finding a priceless artifact that has been tucked away in your basement for centuries. The more that you explore the artifact and its limits, you find that not only is the artifact the actual foundation of the house, it is the house. The Art of Learning is the key to a world that seems like fantasy, but is actually directly at your fingertips if you only reach out for it.”
To learn more about Matt Ryan’s independent study workshop, read his Learning Journal post.
PORT JEFFERSON STATION, NY – Andrew Harris is a Special Education Resource Room teacher working with students between the ages of 14 and 18. He describes his students as bright and hard working children with minor learning disabilities, who would benefit from special projects in addition to support with their regular schoolwork.
Harris applied to our book donation program with an interest in starting an Art of Learning book discussion group with some of his students. He hopes that the learning experiences and principles outlined in the book will inspire his students as they develop their own learning paths. “I want my students to appreciate and enjoy the process of learning,” Harris explains.
In addition to the book group, Harris plans to incorporate some of the Resilience principles such as Valuing Process Before Results and Investment in Loss, into his math and writing lessons. With multiple avenues of exposure to the concepts, he believes the students will more easily incorporate the ideas into their own lives.
REDWOOD CITY, CA – Over the course of the school year, Melissa VanderMolen’s 7th grade English Language Arts class has been exploring the theme of what it takes to be great. In addition to reading books and articles about growth mindset, goal setting, and learning styles, she is hoping that her students will develop an interest in taking charge of their own learning. “I hope to empower students to create their own learning opportunities through enhancing their drive and internal motivation for learning,” VanderMolen explains.
As a final project, students are participating in literature circles in which they read and discuss a book that explores the theme of greatness. The students who have chosen to work with The Art of Learning will complete a project that showcases their learning and take-aways from the book. Some groups are working on slide presentations and others are working on creating a poster/bulletin board. All of the groups will present their projects to the class when they are finished. VanderMolen told the JWF that her goal for this project is “that students become more reflective about their own learning and capabilities. I have already witnessed their critical thinking skills progress to the next level while processing this book.”
Here are some reflections from the students midway through their exploration of The Art of Learning:
“What I have learned about the art of learning is that you have to follow your dreams and to never give up and to fight and if there is an obstacle in front of you try to jump it to become something great. The most important thing I have learned is to believe in yourself.” A.P.
“Try new things, learn from your mistakes, learn to get better.” S.O.
“I learned that every art is related in some way and that if you put your mind to it you can do amazing things.“ G.F.
“Winning doesn’t matter, what matters is what effort you put into it.” T.S.
New York, NY – Lu Chihlan teaches a Mandarin Chinese Language and Culture course at Manhattan High School for Girls and in an afterschool class for kindergarten through fifth grade students at PS 3, is a Culture Workshop Instructor for elementary students at the China Institute, and a tutor for the Chinese Flagship Program at Hunter College. In addition, she is actively involved in the campaign to develop a community middle school within her home district.
Chihlan explained her desire to bring The Art of Learning principles to all of her students because of the powerful impact the book had on her when she first read it. “After my son’s teacher showed me this book, lots of puzzle pieces came together for me in understanding the power of inter-disciplinary studies and the process from knowledge input to internalization, through interconnection to creative output and performance.”
In her high school course, Chihlan uses the Resilience module, with a specific focus on Beginner’s Mind and Using Adversity, to support her students in exploring their interests in Asian culture and preparing them to be global citizens. She incorporates principles such as Investment in Loss and Value Process Before Results through in-class review and reflection on drafts of project assignments.
With her younger students, Chihlan weaves Beginner’s Mind into their Chinese language instruction. “I take them to a garden nearby and take advantage of the environment where they are relaxed and comfortable while teaching concepts like colors and flowers and nature in Chinese, turning the language challenge into excitement and inspiration. Our project-based curriculum also allows us to practice Using Adversity in the process.”
PENSACOLA, FL – Barbie Nall teaches a variety of subjects to 6th through 12th grade students in a drug and alcohol residential treatment center. In addition to providing the students with the academic coursework necessary to reach or maintain grade level standards, the program aims to give the students tools to learn positive coping skills necessary for developing healthy relationships, solving problems, and avoiding triggers.
“Having already faced many obstacles, the students need multiple avenues of encouragement to better their lives,” Nall explains. “Some students have never had a stable environment and need to know how they can make life better for themselves. The book, along with the study guides, will help the students realize how to make that difference.”
Nall plans to share The Art of Learning with the counselors and director of the program and possibly have the students read and discuss the book. In this way, the students will not only encounter the concepts in class, but in their counseling sessions and the dormitory as well. In addition to the book discussion, Nall will incorporate Resilience principles such as Value Process Before Results, Investment in Loss, Beginner’s Mind, and Using Adversity into the break periods using kinesthetic activities.
DUBLIN, IRELAND – Colaiste Dhulaigh is a community college in Dublin, Ireland, dedicated to providing the students within the community with the skills and confidence they need to further their education and enter the workforce. Dave Curran, the Head of Journalism and a Student Services team member in the Media department at the college, has found The Art of Learning to be an invaluable resource on his own path to learning and growth and has shared the book with many friends and colleagues. Curran explains that one of the aspects of the book that appeals to him is that, “Josh’s principles of learning take the mystique out of talent and progress. He makes excellence feel attainable.”
Curran plans to teach a seminar to journalism and media production students in which he hopes to provide the students with the tools to “approach tasks differently, aware that a result different to the one they hoped to achieve will be treated as learning rather than failure.”
The seminar will use learning principles such as Listening First and Loving the Game to help students discover their passions, The Power of Presence to provide the tools to improve focus in all aspects of learning, and Value Process Before Results and Investment in Loss to emphasize the learning opportunities present in mistakes.
“I want students to think creatively about how they approach their learning by viewing bad results or a lack of focus as something other than failure. Rather, they should treat these as steps toward being better students by reflecting on the causes.”