14 December, 2011

Learning Narratives

We humans are creators of stories, and learning makes no difference. Everytime I succeed – or fail – I receive some feedback about who I am. That feedback I use, often unconsciously, to create a narrative, or story, about who I am. This can sometimes create problems: too many failures in a row at math and I might create a narrative portraying me as a student, who is bad at math. If I start believing that I’m bad at math and therefore I failed, I’m in the risky area.  The problem is this narrative can become self-fulfilling. For if I failed, because I suck, there seems to be little light regarding future tests. My inability of doing math starts to look like a static quality of myself. You can notice this happening if you hear me saying “oh, I’d so love to ace my next math test, but it’s hopeless - I’m just bad at math”.

But, the critic might argue, doesn’t a bad result show that, in fact, you are bad at math? In a way, it does. But it does not show that I’m permanently hopeless. A horrible result sure proves I didn’t get it all right – but there’s no reason it couldn’t change next time. Maybe I can create a narrative portraying me as bright math student who just wasn’t paying attention, therefore failing a test. Perhaps the next exam is going to be a turnaround leading me to a future where I’m superb at math! Who knows what will happen?

Now, I don’t know if all this made any sense, and frankly, just now I’m too tired for any rewriting. Blame the end of the exam period, if you will. I hope you got something out of it.
Tomorrow: last exam of this semester and then off for some well-earned Christmas holidays. Hopefully I’ll have more time and energy to read something besides exam stuff. Maybe I’ll manage to crunch a post or two on the way.