Examining Your Own Lens

Often people are not even aware of the lenses through which they view the world. Their lens is their reality. Other times, a parent will ask, “Is it possible to see my children’s learning without using my own lens?”

As learning consultants, we often respond, “It depends. What color is your lens? How has it been formed? How flexible is it?”

Once a parent is willing to examine how she views things and accept that a viewpoint is only part of the picture, she is more likely to see a wider spectrum of her child’s learning. Viewing learning only through certain familiar filters and lenses can be limiting.

As we develop an awareness of how our lenses and frames affect our perceptions, we can begin to more readily view different aspects of the world around us. Lenses can distort or enhance our views. Sometimes we view learning through a telephoto lens and zoom in on an aspect of learning — which can be positive or negative.

The lower parts of our brains are programmed to alert us to danger, so at times this gets translated into a hyperfocus on what our children aren’t yet able to do and an intense desire to fix that problem. Unfortunately, if the intense focus is not positive, it can have an unintended consequence of the learner having a negative feeling about that particular skill. We can probably all can think of one of these experiences from our own childhood.

On the flip side, many athletes and other performers have become superstars by using their telephoto lenses to perfect their skills. They choose to hyperfocus on portions of their performance and visualize perfection. By intensely focusing on improving a skill you are passionate about, this creates a desire for mastery.

Education AlternativeExpanding Your Lens

Expanding our lens to wide angle allows us to broaden our perspective on the learning process. When we use our wide angle lens, we can expand our view to include many facets of learning that we don’t see when we use our regular or zoom lenses.

For example, one area we can begin to see is how learning changes over time. When we first learn a new skill or start on a topic, many learners often have far more enthusiasm than skill and expend a lot of energy. As learners become more skillful or knowledgeable, they are able to do more complex learning with far less effort.

If we just used our zoom lens at the start, learning to ride a bike might look like an insurmountable task. The learner needs to incorporate balance, steering, confidence and pedaling, while they are also looking ahead to see where they are going. Using a wider angle lens, however, the parent can provide the support the learner needs to get started as well as envision the rider at the later stages of mastery, enjoying riding with friends and yelling, “See ya later, mom” as he rides down the path. Choosing the appropriate lens can aid in facilitating positive learning.

Relationship With The LearnerYour Relationship With The Learner

Another wide angle lens for viewing learning is the relationship the learner has with the topic and other people. This is perhaps the widest and most powerful of all lenses. It impacts so many facets of learning and is the least appreciated in traditional learning situations. When many of us think about how relationships affect learning, we remember a favorite teacher in high school. We recall how relationships with teachers, mentors and others sharing the learning experience impacted our love of learning. It might be the drama teacher who introduced us to Shakespeare or the math teacher who made solving equations come alive.

Sometimes lifelong learning spans generations. Monica’s husband has a lifelong love of sports. He remembers listening to baseball games on the radio with his dad and grandfather and attending Detroit Tigers’ games. Their oldest son shares his love of sports and started attending the University of Michigan football games with them as a little guy. Keeping track of football scores enabled him to learn the 7 times table with ease, and soon he was memorizing the scores of all the college games played every weekend and passing them on to the family — not everyone shared his passion, however all appreciated how his memory skills were being developed.

He can still remember scores of games from 20 year ago. His love of tracking sports statistics furthered his math skills, probably more than any single math class. He played soccer all through school and, when school wasn’t interesting or motivating, his desire to stay on the team kept him engaged. His own coaching eventually led to work as an Athletic Director for a school system. The love of sports lives on in another generation today. Recently, Monica’s oldest son and her grandson came to their house for a nearby soccer tournament, and they watched another young boy’s passion and enthusiasm for soccer fuel his love of sports.

What color are your lenses today? How do they influence your child’s learning? Please join the conversation by leaving a comment below. 

If you would like to learn more about how SelfDesign Global supports homelearning families in examining and expanding their learning lens visit www.selfdesign.com.