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.
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.