Wednesday, April 12, 2017

They Said It Would Be Easy



"This is the easy part."

I stared back at those words as my eyes raced across the screen. The directions seemed easy enough - after all, the tagline said the post was written by a 13 year old. I am 44. Surely I can figure this out.

I glanced over the "easy part" and scrolled down. Way down. Half a page down. THIS was the easy part? Are you kidding me?

I scrolled back up quickly and read the words again. Slowly.

This. Is. The. Easy. Part.

Scroll down. Scroll up.

Scroll down. Scroll up.

I have absolutely no idea what I am doing.

I must be an idiot if I can't do the easy part.

Why am I wasting my time on something that I just can't understand?

This was my experience yesterday as I sat on my sofa, baffled by the nuances of HTML code. I was trying to add a place where my readers could subscribe to my blog via email (so when I publish a new post they will get a message emailed to them), but for the life of me, I could not figure out where I was supposed to paste the elaborate code I had copied from another website into my blog.


Let me stop here to get one fact straight: I am NOT an idiot.

But I sure felt like one.

How many times have students felt like this in our classes? We've taught the content they are supposed to learn, yet they stare back at us with confused expressions or outright frustration.

They don't get it.

And quite frankly, neither do we.

There's this phrase floating around called "The Curse of Knowledge." According to the Harvard Business Review, this "curse" manifests when one person, who has mastered a particular content, tries to explain it to someone who hasn't. We become so confident in our understanding that our brains simply skip over the basic, logical explanations and instead turn to generalities or expanded thoughts that glean over the surface instead of penetrating deep within. This creates a barrier to learning, whether in business, education, or any other realm.

As I scrolled through more than 2,400 lines of HTML code on this exact website you are reading today, I wanted basic language. No assumptions of prior knowledge. No jargon or descriptive terminology. Just tell me where to go, what to do, and how to do it right.

And then... I started to tinker.

I realized I could change the color by changing a few numbers after the hashtag. If I added "true" instead of "false" I could make things appear that weren't there before. I could change the title of my automated response and adjust widths and heights to fit my screen.


I made a few mistakes as I went along. Ok, I made a LOT of mistakes in the beginning. But the more I started to tinker with the code (and realize that I wasn't really breaking anything that couldn't be fixed), my confidence grew and I started to actually understand a little bit of what I was doing.


Does this mean I'm a master hacker and I can create code for anything I want to design? Of course not! I cannot possibly learn all there is to know about coding from just a few hours of tinkering.

But it's a start.

I know more than when I began.

I can move to the next step.

I am no longer paralyzed by fear.

These are the lessons I learned about myself today and they are great reminders for my work with students, teachers, and district leaders.

Sometimes we have to pull back a little and make the learning easier to understand.

We need to give others the green light to tinker and try.

Failure needs to be embraced as steps in the learning process.

Then celebrate the success!

If you would like to give my coding a try - enter your email address below to subscribe to this blog! You will have to verify a message that will be sent to your email - and it might end up in your spam folder, who knows - but once you do that, you will never miss a post! Give it a try and let's see if it works!


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