I think I need a little more Dream Eater philosophy in my own life. I hate feeling ignorant and have very little patience for the learning process. I always expect myself to go from zero to exceptionally skilled with anything I attempt, and I beat up on myself a lot when I can’t get things right the first time I try them. Intellectually, I know this is silly, and I’ve been trying very hard to remind myself that nobody can achieve an expert level of skill overnight. Still, this tendency trips me up time and again.
I was battling with this bad habit more than usual when I started my after-school writing class. I got quite a few kids that had learning and discipline needs that were way beyond my experience level, not to mention it was the first time I’d ever taught a small class (which turns out to be a very different challenge than teaching a large class) or a mixed-ages class. It was a lot of new things all at once, and I constantly felt like I was playing catch up. I’d come home deeply discouraged, railing at myself for incompetence and ignorance. Cory would always remind me that this wasn’t true, that I was just learning something new, but it was hard for me to accept this. As long as there was anything that didn’t go 100% right, I felt incompetent, and if there was anything that I didn’t completely know, I felt ignorant.
Lately I’ve been trying a different tactic, which is to acknowledge that sometimes I AM incompetent or ignorant…because that is the first stage of learning anything at all! In fact, it is impossible to develop a new skill without first being ignorant or incompetent at it. Whenever I can embrace this stage as a part of the learning process, it seems easier to accept. Before, I felt I was lying to myself. Now, I’m re-contextualizing what ignorance actually is, and while I’m not exactly giving it value, I am placing it within the stages of a valuable activity. It took the pressure and the guilt out of the equation, and I’ve found my brain is much more agile at adapting to the needs of each kid and the class ever since.
Have you ever had to embrace your own ignorance? How did you accept it, and move beyond it?