Learn by Doing

encouragement play Apr 13, 2021

Just finished up a virtual class today and had an interesting discussion with students: Do you learn by doing, reading, or seeing?

I confess to being a combination of all three, but I definitely need to see things in front of me to have any hope of understanding what is going on. I do tend to research things a lot before I start. I want to be able to have a chance to trouble shoot on my own so the more knowledge the better. Ultimately, though, I generally have to dive right in. Mostly, because the research can hold me up and be an excuse for the fear of making a mistake. That's right, I don't even start some things because I am afraid I will mess it up. 99% of the time you don't, at least not in any consequential way. And at the end of the day, you won't know you made a mistake if you don't actually try. 

The most recent example? Fabric dying. I'm planning a project and decided that hand dyed fabric was the way to go. We played with tie dye and some gradation work over the summer, and I did it once before about 15 years ago. Not exactly an expert. I bought the fabric, pulled out the dyes from the summer and just set in to make a mess. All of it was successful - I have coloured fabric - even if not all of it is right for the project in question. I was watching videos and read the instructions 10 times but at the end of the day I had to just get the fabric wet and play with colours. It was so much fun! Once I let go of perfection and the idea that the wrong colour was waste I could explore and experiment. I got some better colours than I'd planned, I just had to dive in.