Monday, October 26, 2015

Line Upon Line

I'm taking a measurement and geometry class this semester. The class serves two purposes, to increase teacher content knowledge of measurement and geometry and to help find ways to understand and respond to student thinking about measurement and geometry. 

Measurement and geometry have never been strong areas of mine--math in general wasn't until college, but geometry was a killer year for me in high school. The only thing I remember from that class was my teacher's name and I sat next to a kid who called himself "The Wolf." 

I'm taking this class for the second time (long story, but no-it's not because I failed). I have noticed this time around that I am understanding SO MUCH MORE and I've also noticed that my questions and comments have gotten SO MUCH BETTER from the last time I took the class. I think it's a combination of continued education, continued experience, and new classmates to help and support me.

But I am an elementary school teacher in a class full of mostly secondary teachers and their understanding of measurement and geometry far surpasses anything I can even pretend to know. Just when I think I'm understanding something, someone asks a question and I feel completely lost--almost as if I know absolutely nothing. I feel like I've made no progress which is frustrating because I know I have, but I'm still so incredibly behind in my knowledge compared to some of my class mates. 

When Zach asked how class was this week I didn't know how to respond, "Okay." Was my initial response. On one hand, I had moments where I felt like I was learning and improving and I felt proud and excited and good. On the other hand, though, I had moments where I was so lost I couldn't even start to summarize some of the conversations because they made no sense. I was tossing my conflicted emotions about the class in my head last night, and I came to this conclusion:

My experience in class is a perfect metaphor for life. There are moments when we feel like we're on a roll--we just learned something and walked away with a brand new perspective. Life will be different from here on out! But the life happens and suddenly the moment passes and we feel in over our heads. Maybe we have a lot more questions. Maybe we feel like we've made next to no progress, even though we had experiences that helped us learn and grow in ways that we are fully aware of, yet here we are "back to square one." 

I think that life is our chance to take the same class over and over again. The material might seem a bit different--as we continue learning, having life experiences, and as we surround ourselves with new and different people. Suddenly we're enlightened with new perspectives and understandings. It's good to feel good about that progress and recognize the learning and growth. It's important to understand, though, that we get to know people who might seem to have a piece figured out or are further ahead than us in one area. That doesn't mean you aren't learning and that doesn't mean that the knowledge you DO have is worthless. 

When we use what we know, we continue the process of learning. If I were to discount all that I've learned, I wouldn't apply my knowledge and my learning wouldn't progress. 

I have made a goal to find a scripture to choose one scripture a week to study (or ponderize) weekly and with this epiphany, my scripture this week is: 

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
-2 Nephi 28:30

The part that stands out to me the most about that scripture paired with the thoughts I had about my geometry class is this:

"For unto him that receiveth I will give more."

As I study this scripture this week, my hope is to really start appreciating and applying the knowledge I receive without worrying so much about how much farther I have to go. If I receive it, I will be given more. What an incredible promise. 

Do you feel like learning happens precept upon precept? What's your experience with that?  

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