Friday, July 8, 2011

Stages of learning

I received this yesterday. It made my day. It has been edited some to maintain confidentially.

 " I graduated from Health Enrichment in 1996!  I was doing some research on massage schools for my aunt, and of course I started with you J  I read through your website and I am glad to see that you are continuing to move massage therapy into the future.  I wanted to take a moment to thank you for all you do, have done and will do.  Massage has forever changed my life and the lives of those I have been blessed to touch.   It all started with a friend of mine that was attending Health Enrichment in 1994.  I had a bad car accident that totally changed the way my body worked.  I was on many pain meds to cope with my injuries.  My friend used me for her log hours.  I was so profoundly affected by the massage that I had to tell people all about it!!!!  I quit my 9-5 job and enrolled in Health Enrichment J. Since graduation I have achieved all the goals that we set for ourselves as a part of our training.  I have worked with physical therapists, chiropractors and at a salon/spa.  About 4 yrs into my massage therapy career, I brought my clients to my home (this was a set goal).  My husband built me a massage room with private entrance and bathroom.  I was able to have an at home business for 8 yrs while birthing babies and homeschooling!   I am studying for the MBLEx (using your massage books to study) so I can be licensed here in SC and I am actively taking classes towards my bachelors in science.   I really wanted you to know how the education you provided me has always been a great part of who I have become and where I am going.  Again I say Thank You!  Because of you and your vision, I am blessed."

As an educator these types of messages make it all worth while.  Wednesday I was in the classroom with my newest group of students and we were beginning our overview of muscles.  This is really hard for me because the newest information supports the concept that there really  are not such thing as individual muscles but instead interconnected structures that produce functional units.  If you really want to understand that go the Gill Hedley's web site and purchase his DVD's and watch them over and over and over

. My student's idea of what the muscles look like

Anyway, learning occurs in stages .One of the pictures posted is of a swallowtail butterfly caterpillar on some dill in my garden. A caterpillar's main job is to eat and not be eaten.  An entry level student's job is to learn to establish a foundation and not give up.  In my opinion entry level education is the most difficult.  I appreciate the frustration and overwhelm that occurs as new students realize that - yup they do have to know all that stuff - and as a teacher I have to remember that they don't know all that stuff yet.  It is my job to get them through the caterpillar stage so they can become a butterfly.

I always have a couple of students that by their nature easily understand the concepts and application. The fundamental details and the repetition required to own the information is so tedious for them. I listen as they describe how frustrating it is for them to do all the homework and take all the multiple choice tests and do on the activities in the textbooks.  Now online learning is being integrated into the classroom.  Actually in many ways a well done, comprehensive online learning platform such as provided by my publisher Elsevier/Mosby for the Essential Sciences textbook is truly a better way to learn fundamentals such as anatomy and physiology ( coupled with a teacher that knows how to manage online learning). Tons of different learning elements can be used to repeat the same information over and over but in novel and unique ways and the student can review as much as they need to. But and this is a very big BUT- students have to be  motivate and discipline themselves to do that.  I have a group that is getting ready to graduate soon.  Many of them got behind on all the stuff necessary for obtaining as solid entry level education which includes completing lots of multiple choice exams in preparation for taking what ever licensing exams Michigan approves.  Now they are stressed because they procrastinated. I am ok with that.  This is another learning stage. Besides as they are getting caught up they are reviewing and that is a good thing. One of my recent graduates just informed me that she passed the National Certification Exam. Excellent- to me that means we both did our job!
It is ok if students get a little grumpy.  Butterflies are beautiful. Caterpillars are not always so lovely. Lots of people get squeamish about the uckiness of some caterpillars. Well butterflies start as crawling creeping creatures and it is a necessary stage. Personally I really like caterpillars (well most of them-tent caterpillars and tomato hornworms give me the willies). I don't give up on a student until they quit and give up on themselves. I am a teacher. My job is to get them out of the cocoon (chrysalis) and ready to fly. 

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