BERKELEY, CA – Owen Monroy, Assistant Coach to the Cal Women’s Beach Volleyball team, contacted The Art of Learning Project after several years of experimenting with, adapting, and applying the learning concepts in his coaching. “The Art of Learning closely resonated with my instincts as a learner, and Josh’s experience and credibility increased my courage to re-imagine much of my coaching process,” Monroy says. After years coaching at the collegiate level (University of Illinois, Penn State, Saint Mary’s College of CA, Westminster College), Monroy returned to California with the hope of developing a better framework for skill acquisition and performance focused on beach volleyball, the fastest growing sport in the NCAA.
At Cal Berkeley, Monroy is engaging the team in a series of presentations and discussions, laying the groundwork for a culture and methodology which aims at feel-based learning, a mechanism for what they refer to as “dynamic response.” It is an incremental learning process, which pulls from concepts such as Form to Leave Form and The Soft Zone. “We try to limit rigid ideas around performance. Form, or technically explicit cues are not the norm here. We are focused on preparing well and allowing the body to shape movements in response to situational demands. The thing is,” Monroy points out, “encouraging athletes to color outside the lines of technique is counter-intuitive and often feels risky, yet our athletes are adapting to this approach incredibly well. Our ability to stay loose and produce dynamic results in chaos is taking off.”
With the support of the JWF, Monroy is developing a community of coaches, educators, and learners to discuss The Art of Learning principles and their role in athletics and education. If you are interested in joining the conversation, contact Coach Monroy.
San Jose, CA – Adisa Banjoko, founder of the Hip Hop Chess Federation, is bringing the HHCF methodology to this charter middle school in the California Bay Area. Through his position as a chess instructor and physical education teacher, Banjoko plans to teach his students skills and strategies that will not only help them play chess and succeed academically, but to make positive choices in their lives in general. “Teaching chess to kids after age 16 is intervention for a lot of violence,” Banjoko explains. “Chess for kids before or by 13 is prevention. If you get them to understand even these basic ideas, that they have to make sacrifices, weigh risks, and strategize, they’re ahead of the game and start to think about not getting involved with things dealing with gangs and drugs”
After an initial immersion in the process of how the game of chess works, Banjoko will begin to introduce The Art of Learning principles to his students. Through concepts such as Investment in Loss, Using Adversity, and Numbers to Leave Numbers, the students will begin to develop a more resilient and growth oriented relationship to learning and facing challenges. In addition, Banjoko will incorporate these same principles into his physical education instruction so that his students have the opportunity to experience both the physical and intellectual applications of the concepts.
BLAINE, MN – Jon Loo, an English teacher at Blaine High School and varsity hockey and lacrosse coach, developed a grade-wide study of The Art of Learning for the 10th grade English students. With a strong focus on engineering, math, and science, the educators at this school are devoted to developing and implementing a curriculum in grades 9-12 that will challenge students in all curricular areas.
The 10th grade English students read The Art of Learning during their non-fiction literature study following a fiction study of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
“We think that The Art of Learning is an ideal follow up to continue reinforcing the distinctions between classical and romantic, or integral and entity based paradigms,” explained Loo. “The thought processes and learning processes that Josh outlines as his secret to success are in concert with the path to the best engineering, mathematical and scientific accomplishments. The students will love Josh’s real-life story, appreciate his perseverance, and learn from his method.“
After reading the first two chapters of the book, the students began to discuss its relevance to the study of English. “When Josh discusses the ability to learn in multiple disciplines by immersing in one task, I think he’s tapping into the power of metaphor, which of course is the gateway to the study of language. Making connections between disciplines, benefiting on an unconscious level for a deeply singular conscious activity, studying the numbers to leave the numbers, these are the realizations that we discussed hoping to achieve,” Loo explained.
The culminating project in this unit of study was for the students to write and produce video documentaries of fictitious inventors who succeed because they work incrementally in the process of engineering something useful. “The creation of the documentary will give the students some video story telling skills while reinforcing the values and principles great scientists and engineers follow to achieve excellence in their fields.”
You can view the student films “Lighting the Way” and “The Cure for Brain Cancer” here or on our Educator Resources page.
MAPLE, ONTARIO, CANADA – Jamie Cohen is a 9th grade English teacher and Director of Student Extra-Curricular Activities at Tanenbaum CHAT (Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto). This year he ran his second SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment) Student Leadership Seminar for 115 students ranging from 13-17 years of age, all of whom are in some way involved in creating, organizing, and running extra-curricular events and activities. He is interested in “spurring teenagers on through adversity to creative, new angles in the planning process of events, how to be clearheaded, present and cool under fire in the week leading up to an event and the event itself” and, overall, to learn how to become exceptional leaders. He used W2M (Willing to Make Mistakes) Inspiration Boards to explore Investment in Loss and Using Adversity with this highly competitive group of students, with an aim to help them shift their perspectives “when looking at mistakes, obstacles, and resistance points during the adventure of creating extra-curricular school projects.” They also used the learning principles to create a plan for their commitments and activities throughout the year, learn to prioritize goals based on those commitments, and become more cognizant of where they focus their energies. Self-assessment will be included in the process and there will be a follow up meeting to help keep the students focused on their commitments. Mr. Cohen has shared the complete assignment for the seminar, as well as a few of the students’ written and visual responses on our Resources for Educators page.
In addition to his work with the SOLE seminar, Mr. Cohen developed an Art of Learning program in his 9th grade English class as part of a 6-week novel study unit. The students used The Art of Learning in conjunction with their study of the novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. As a culmination to this unit, the students applied their knowledge of one of the main themes: empathy comes through investigating, seeing, hearing and feeling the world from different perspectives through the creation of a Curious Empathy Board that integrates the “play between knowledge, intuition, and creativity.” The Empathy Boards included both visual and verbal components and encouraged students to focus on ideas from The Art of Learning such as Numbers to Leave Numbers and Breaking Down Walls. Mr. Cohen has shared the complete assignment for the empathy board as well as some of the students visual and written responses on our Resources for Educators page.
MAUMEE, OH – Christopher West is a teacher in the science department and the men’s assistant varsity soccer coach at Maumee High School. He plans to use The Art of Learning in his 11th and 12th grade Introduction to Critical Thinking Class to develop the students’ understanding of how they learn and to encourage introspection.
West explains, “The mission of my class is to guide students into critical analysis of every area of their lives. This class takes the focus away from tests and into active examination of the students’ own understanding. We explore how worldviews, cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, fallacies, and values effect their evaluation of arguments. The end goal being an understanding of the students’ own learning that is engaged, purposeful, and cross-curricular.”
West believes that introducing the students to learning principles such as Numbers to Leave Numbers will push his students toward a deeper understanding of how learning takes place. “By seeing how Josh used these concepts to become a champion at chess and martial arts,” he explains, “the class could then ask themselves the question ‘How can I use these concepts in my own life?’ That applicability is key. Taking classroom lessons outside and into the world should really be the goal for all educators.”
AGOURA HILLS, CA. Andrew Staiano is using The Art of Learning as a teaching tool in his Theory of Knowledge class and sharing it with the Agoura High School soccer team. Andrew says: “I would like to use these books with my soccer players in order to help explain the art of the endgame, the concepts of numbers to leave numbers, and entering the soft zone to help them not only become better players but also to make that ‘journey back to childhood’ where the love of the game is first and foremost.”