~ Abigail Adams
Learning can be fun, but there is a span of time between initial attempt and acquirement where the learner may feel tentative and unsure.
I was at Joan's house when she was training her new puppy to come down the stairs independently. She'd plop him up on the second step and lovingly coax and encourage. Cooper wagged his little behind nervously while looking from the goal (the floor) to Joan (the coach) and back to the goal again. Time and tenuous successes led to independence, evidenced by a puppy who now zooms up and down the stairs whether Joan wants him to or not.
My daughter and I recently tried to get my grandbaby to take his first steps. I laughed when I recognized how similar it was to Cooper's process. My daughter and I sat about 2 feet apart, aimed Caleb, and the receiver would coax and encourage with open arms. Caleb was at first completely conflicted, desiring to span the distance, but looking at us like "Are you serious? I'm not sure I can do this!" Initial Frankenstein steps have progressed to bowlegged cowboy ones, and his joy in the skill is such that he wanders around the house now just because it's fun.
My heart longs to know how to play the guitar. My son recently tried to teach me two chords. Trying to manipulate my left hand into the unfamiliar and unnatural claw shapes required feels beyond my ability. Even though the end result is something I really want, this phase of learning is far from fun.
These recent experiences have created mental snapshots that have me thinking about the process of learning. Being a primary teacher, I tend to be sunny and positive and have a "Learning is Fun" mantra….but perhaps it would better serve my kids to say "Learning is sometimes really hard! The fun comes once the skill is acquired, so the hard work is worth it. We must be diligent."
Reading isn't fun yet for my struggling readers. Thinking mathematically isn't fun for the students who haven't yet developed number sense. But, if I coach well, if we all coach well, we can move through the parts that are just plain hard work, knowing that joy and fun are on the other side.
(cross posted at thedailycafe.com)