Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Learning by Creating

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Jul 10, 2009

Originally posted on Half an Hour, July 10, 2009.

Responding to Bud Hunt, who writes, "that writing, or at least composition, remains about the closest thing to learning in a bottle that I’ve found so far." Shared as part of the document here.

Well, widely construed. 'Composition', certainly, or 'creativity' more generally.

- in the process of preparing for presentations, which includes the preparation of diagrams and/or photos, and the authoring of slides, I learn a huge amount.

- the practice of taking photographs regularly has taught be a great deal not just about photography but also about flowers, trees, bugs and birds

- creating videos (especially., eg. my Bogota video, which involved a lot of production) help me find themes and generalizations in my experiences

- writing software has been enormously educational to me, with lessons in everything from nomenclature and logic to data structures, communication and interaction, and conceptualization, all in addition to learning how to program.

- writing OLDaily, which is a series of short posts, has taught me not only how to write concisely, but also to be more observant, to establish a rigorous and regular research practice, and to communicate with a wider community

- carpentry - for example, the building of a set of shelves and window-box, in addition to finishing a room, taught me how to use power tools, about materials (strengths and properties), about design and decoration, and about furniture building.

- gardening has taught be about plants and insects (and especially how to control lily beetles organically), about soil and weather and botany, about landscaping, and also about process and patience

This is my learning. I know that others learn through creativity in their own right.

Many people, for example, learn through working on mechanics and machines. 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' captures the way the physical practice of manipulating metal and rubber contains wider life lessons.

I think that, in general, creativity in its various forms - writing, film-making, etc. - is a much more powerful form of learning than any sort of passive receptivity or information transfer. Learning, as you say, in a bottle.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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