All right. I've got my feet under me once more, enough to express the things I've been thinking about but didn't have words for; the words and phrasings aren't right yet, and the ideas are also not particularly fully-formed, but it's enough to start, and watch them form from here.
Begin the torrent.
Walter showed me Minsky's essay on Education and Psychology this morning.
"A new class of 6-year-old children will soon begin to share similar ways to think and behave. Then, next year, when they are 7 years old, most of those pupils will still remain in that group—and thus will tend to perpetuate those same patterns of activity. The next year, they will be 8-year-olds, but will continue to share many attitudes, values, and cognitive strategies. So as those children proceed through their K-12 grades, large portions of their ways to think will remain much like those of 6-year-olds!"
To learn new ways of thinking, keep seeking out and learning from groups of people who think in ways you are unable to. This means you're in a constant state of being a non-native speaker, of having to struggle to understand things others take for granted. It means it's constantly uncomfortable.
Sugar emphasizes reflection, collaboration, and exploration as things that help us learn how to learn. Reflection comes more naturally to me, an introvert by nature; the other two are tough for me. Incredibly tough. Going unfamiliar places, trying unfamiliar things, talking with people I don't know... I might look stupid. I might waste somebody's time. I might mess up. And the litany of excuses goes on, giving me reasons to be shy.
I think it is important that we ourselves model the kind of learning that we want the children we're helping to have. It is important to dogfood not just our hardware and our code, but our learning - our behavior, our processes, the way we work with each other, the way we move forward.
Do we want them to create? We must create, not just pontificate. Do we want them to share, even if they're hesitant that what they have is not quite fully formed? We've got to post our own drafts, our own half-baked thoughts, our own questions. Do we want them to be unafraid of conflict while remaining respectful of those that they may vehemently disagree with? To admire, acknowledge, and appreciate all disciplines, not just our own? To reach out and bring in newcomers, teach others, bring forth leaders from the communities that they belong to?
I think that if I'm hoping to help some kids somewhere grow up to be great dreamers and doers, I've got to keep on trying to grow into one myself. It's not something that you ever know, or something you can ever stop; learning how to be a learner is something that we all have got to keep on studying.
Now I will proceed to learn by making things - I'm sitting here in Donna Benjamin's Inkscape tutorial, and there's an idea stuck in my mind I need to get out...