Witty Title Escapes Me . . .

by danielagins

I have never really reflected on how I actually learned some of the things I know how to do. It took a required post for one of my grad school classes to make me stop and think about what should be common knowledge (for myself). Please note, before you go judging the quality of this program based on what I am about to share, that this was simply an initial thought question meant to frame our learning for the next week. So, in the name on openness . . . here is what I wrote:


I think I’ve pretty much said all I need to say in my title.

Considering that Mike (<– the professor) might be looking for a more “meta” explanation, I’ll pander to his desires in this instance.

Outside of the typical multiple intelligence babble we revisit in PD every few years, I’ve never really given thought to how I have learned what I know, in non-academic instances. It is also scary to think about how little I actually know outside of a few things. So, here are the only three things I know how to do:

  • DJ/scratching (<– the hip hop sounds created from moving a record back & forth in a rhythmic fashion) has been a hobby/passion since 1995. I consider the artistic side of it akin to playing a percussion instrument. I never took lessons. I just did it. I tinkered around. I listened to music that had scratching in it. I tried to emulate that. It was a long road to get to where I am today (which is far from good, by my standards) but I did it all myself. No manual. No assistance. Just drive and passion and time. (p.s. the link is NOT me . . . not even close)
  • Editing video: Same as above. I always had a drive to do it (wanted the Fisher Price PXL2000 so badly . . . still do) and once editing became more accessible, I jumped on board and dove in head first. I spent HOURS doing it and wasn’t afraid to mess up. This, however, resulted from another nonacademic learning endeavor . . .
  • Technology/Computers: While I don’t know code or the stuff under the hood, I have managed to teach myself quite a bit about using computers (both personally and professionally) since 2005. I was a technophobe prior to 2005. Email and word were my limits. Then I had “the awakening” and got the drive to learn and lost the fear and jumped in and started pressing buttons. The more time I spent, and the more buttons I pressed, the easier it got. I am now the “go-to tech guy” at my school.

Essentially, I’ve just wasted a bunch of your time I guess, because in retrospect, my title really did sum things up.  If I may briefly speak to academic learning, I think that there were only two classes in my life that I ever truly felt like my brain was growing . . . dendrites being birthed and whatnot. Both were late in my undergrad career and both, now that I have the vocabulary to understand, were quite constructivist in nature. The classes (History in the Topics of Ideas, and, Modernism) required a ton of reading (mostly Literature, some Philosophy, etc) but with little guidelines. We created our own sense of importance concerning what we read and wrote lengthy papers to thematic, minimalist questions. The book I read about WWI and Modern Memory has had a lasting influence on my teaching. I can quote Baudelaire and Kafka nine years after reading them. These, among other things, have had a profound impact on how I view the World. I learned it because I had the freedom to make it my own.