This summer my family enrolled in a Learn to Row program. It was a wonderful opportunity to do something together as a family, get some fresh air and exercise and, most importantly, learn something new.
We spent a few hours on land, watched a video and then headed out to the water under the watchful eye of two volunteers. Having watched Olympic and high school rowing and having spent a considerable amount of time in a canoe, I must admit that I was excited and confident about the next steps. After all, it was just putting in your oar and pushing water. I was placed in a single racing shell and within the first five minutes I was in the water; my first lesson was humility!
Since that first lesson we have rowed quite a number of times and we have learned a great deal. It is a sport that seems so simple, yet is very complex. The last time that I rowed I spent the entire time trying to figure out what to do with my hands. Our instructors have ranged in age from 15 to 85. They were all so encouraging, patient, and understanding as we gradually learned the technique of the sport.
What has been exciting for me is that I have learned much more than a new sport. I have come to appreciate more about learning. Learning takes time and patience; it is a journey that for some might come easily and for others there are bumps in the road. When you fall out of the boat it means that you are trying something new; it is just as important to get back into the boat right away and try again. The starting point of learning is identifying the gap between where you think you are and where reality exists. Having that knowledge allows you to become more self-directed in your learning and I believe that learning becomes more powerful. The relationship between teacher and student begins with understanding and communication. Both parties need to be invested and committed to ensure that progress and success may happen. And maybe, most importantly, it is never too late or early to learn or to teach. Finally our family has set a goal: a rowing race in early September. Whatever the result of the race, the journey has been challenging, fun, and rewarding; hopefully the same results will happen for your children this school year.