What can our hobbies teach us about learning?

Today’s post is written by Meg Bertapelle, #chat2lrn crew member, instructional designer, mother, wife, crafter, and marching band geek who wishes there was more time in a day.
knitting - rainbow pom-pom scarf

I’m a knitter, and a crafter in general.  I grew up doing “crafty” things with my mom and my grandma (who lived with us starting when I was 5, and still lives with my parents).  I paint, draw, make jewelry and cards, and have attempted sewing. Pretty much, if it’s crafty, I am into it.  Of course, this can get a bit overwhelming 😉

digital scrapbooking

I have also, more recently, gotten into digital scrapbooking to help keep up with all the memories of my daughter’s early years that I want to save from the inevitable forgetful black hole that is my mommy-brain (and I am now obsessed, by the way!).

The first (and glaringly obvious) thing that my hobbies have taught me about learning is to just DO IT! Maybe have someone show you (or find a tutorial) the first time or two, and just get your hands dirty and try something.

Ask for help, or search Google or YouTube for tutorials, when you get stuck or feel like you could do better.

Go ahead and screw it up. If you can’t live with the mistake, start over & do it again, but don’t keep yourself from jumping in because you don’t want to “do it wrong.”

Don’t wait until you can “learn everything” about the hobby before you start – you can’t absorb the finer details until you try the basics.

The really great thing about learning and hobbies, is that we are already interested in the topic, and motivated to learn. We don’t have to figure out some contrived relevance to our real lives, we are seeking out the knowledge and skills required to DO the fun stuff.  Hobbies make us happy, and really that’s all we usually require of them.  As human beings we are happier and healthier being challenged, so learning is a natural and integral part of having a hobby.

And wow, if you can love what you do, do what you love and actually make a living at it, how much fun would that be?

Check out how Logan LaPlante has constructed his own education around this kind of plan:

And just for fun, 18 Important Life Lessons to Learn from Knitting [BuzzFeed]

What are your hobbies?

What have they taught you about learning?

Is it anything you think you could apply to your work?

Tell us in #chat2lrn Thurs Jan 30 8am PST/11am EST/4pm BST.  See you there!

The Science of Creativity


If you missed the chat, catch-up with this Storify.

Some believe that creativity is an innate quality while others counter that argument with the idea that creativity comes from one more “muscle” in the brain that can be built up over time through education, practice and the removal of creativity roadblocks. Many psychologists argue the latter, for example this article on the Science of Creativity. It lists several empirically backed tips to stimulate creativity that might be boiled down to these three general steps:

Step one: Remove roadblocks.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you stand in your own way for being creative?
  • How do others stand in the way of you doing innovative things?
  • What gets in the way of you being able to produce creative products and communicate with others?

Roadblocks are personal, so only you can identify what stops you from believing you have creative juices and using them effectively.

Step two: Get ready to be creative.

Get educated by collecting information and resources. If you’re unsure of your topic you are trying to be creative about, you might find that your idea has already been invented or created. Appreciating other’s work is a great way to know you’re coming up with an effective and creative solution and inspiring yourself to be different. Whether you’re trying to develop that a new elearning template or trying to figure out how to mash together augmented reality, mobile learning and storytelling into a solution never seen before, take some time to really get to know what is already out there.

  • You might have struggled with step one on identifying your roadblocks, so do some research to help figure out what common roadblocks exist and then see if they apply to your situation.
  • Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Get past being a beginner and get to the novice stage – read books, Google white papers, or watch YouTube videos. Use every means at your disposal to learn more about your topic.
  • View what others do – talk to others and brainstorm with them. Check out Pinterest, eLearning DemoFest, or anywhere else you can find examples of good work.
  • Create a collection of inspirational ideas, a folder (electronic or hardcopy) of content that inspires you.

Step three: Leverage your new education and lack of roadblocks to attempt creativity.

  • Just do it! Brainstorm/write/create without hesitation – you can always edit later, but let it all flow at first. You never know turns out to be useful/reusable for one purpose or another.
  • When you hit a roadblock, do something else (anything else, including sleeping on it) and come back to it later.
  • Positive reinforcement – Rome wasn’t designed in a day so even if you only accomplish something very small, give yourself some big credit and do a little more tomorrow.

In summary

If you didn’t find success then don’t be hard on yourself. Instead just smile, rinse and repeat steps 1-3 or try Googling more resources. If you found success, pat yourself on the back, smile and repeat steps 1-3 since it worked so well the first time.