A Crash Course

This fabulous photo of my bike rider was taken by Erika Plummer.


Mama, every time I crash my bike, I learn something.


Mac, that’s so awesome! What do you learn?


I learn how to not do that crash again.

Nature, or nurture? My bet’s on nurture.


Installment #10: What My Toddler Has Taught Me About Adult Learning

Yes, yes, it’s been a while since I posted an installment of What My Toddler Has Taught Me About Adult Learning.  But a lesson happened yesterday that so clearly stands out — because it’s funny, and because it’s right on — that I thought I’d better share.

This is Mac during his soccer class (blurry because both the toddler and the mama/photographer were in motion):

Mac Playing Soccer

In soccer class, the tots are learning all sorts of skills that are not totally about soccer. They are practicing listening skills, learning how to play with others, learning when to stop and rest, as well as developing several motor skills that will serve them well on and off the field.

Yesterday’s soccer class focused on practicing red light (stop), yellow light (slow down), and green light (go fast).  Black light was also part of the lesson: that’s when you stop and do a disco dance (typically resulting in at least one over-zealous parent throwing out his or her back). We spent a good 10 minutes running up and down the field practicing red light, green light, yellow light, with an occasional black light thrown in there for fun.

Later in the afternoon (after a really good nap), Mac, Dado, and I decided to ride our bikes over to Hopworks for dinner.  Mac was in the bike trailer, attached to my bike:

Ready To Go!

On the way home, we were going up a fairly steep hill and I was huffing and puffing (steep hill + a beer + Mama who doesn’t ride her bike often enough = Sucking Wind & Burning Legs), slowly pulling the 40-pound trailer to the top.  Dado zipped by us, straight to the top in no time, and Mac (my backseat driver)  said:

Mama goes yellow light; Dado goes green light.

No kidding – ‘cuz Mama is pulling your a*$ up the hill, kiddo! This Mama is almost at red light; yellow light for this Mama is a downright miracle!

But the lesson here? Mac is applying his new learning to different situations, different contexts. This is key to learning as an adult, too, but as adults, we often forget to do this because we are so focused on applying learning to the context in which we learn it (or need it) that we forget we can apply it elsewhere, take it with us, use it to identify and solve new problems that emerge (like how to get Mama up the hill faster).

Though I am pretty sure that Mac didn’t stop and think about how Dado was going faster than Mama, and what principles of this he’d learned about earlier in the day that might apply, he did apply the concepts of the morning soccer lesson to a new situation. There are lots of educational theories about this, and I’ll spare you all the academic drivel here, but I will ask you:

  • What do you do to make sure you are consciously applying your new learning to different situations?
  • How are you making your learning portable, so you can take it with you from one class to the next, from one context to another, from a flat green field to that steep wind-sucking hill you have to climb?

Think about it! And then, for fun, do a disco dance to celebrate. Black Light, people! Black Light!


#1 – Learning Can Happen When We Challenge our Perspectives

#2 – Learning is Developmental

#3 – We Learn by Direct Experience

#4 – We Learn by Observing Others, Even If Others Are Not Experts

#5 – The Importance Of Books In Learning

#6 – Selecting the Right Learning Tools

#7 – Ask For Help

#8 -Learn In Community

#9 – Embrace Ambiguity and Find Your Way