Update: This post was written when I still used Blogger for this blog. I thought about editing it so it would make more sense now that I have my own domain and work in WordPress, but the very fact that this post exists here without being re-written is a pretty good illustration of my underlying point: We can ALL do hard things when the motivation is there…
Last night, I sat down to start a semi-big project that I have been semi-dreading: migrating my blog from blogspot to wordpress. The reasons are many, but the short and sweet answer is that wordpress has more capabilities to do more things, and as my little blog community grows, it seems to make sense to move over there. I knew there were a lot of steps involved, things I have never done before, and don’t entirely understand. I knew I was going to have to LEARN a bunch of new stuff, and make it make sense, and apply it. I knew there were certain risks involved.
What if I do this wrong? What if I screw it up? What if my blog disappears? Wait, I need to buy the domain name AND the hosting. Ok, so the domain is like the name of the restaurant. And the hosting is the physical space for the restaurant. And I need to pay for both. Ok, that makes sense. But how MUCH space do I need? I don’t want to pay for more than I will use. But what if it’s not enough? Can I make it bigger later if I want to?
Ok, deep breath. Why I am doing this again? Am I sure the easier way is not worth considering? No, the easier way really isn’t what I want. If I’m going to do this, I’m doing it all the way. Even if it’s hard.
Learning is hard, folks. You try, and you play, and you ask for help, and you struggle to UNDERSTAND the help that you get. And then you apply it, and you realise you didn’t even ask the right question, so of course you didn’t get the answer you needed… So you ask again, and the first answer isn’t quite enough, but it sends you to another answer that helps a lot. And just when you think you have it, your pencil breaks (or, in my case, Google wallet took an unannounced 10 minute vacation.)
To be clear: for the 2 hours I sat at my computer, trying to figure this all out, I was deeply engaged. It got dark outside, and the house got a bit of a chill, and even though I was sitting FACING OUT THE WINDOW, I was surprised to discover these facts when I finally looked up. I was engaged, the task was authentic. I was learning, asking, self-correcting, trying and error-ing, and trying again. Reading and squinting and doubting the double-taking and cursing the people who DON’T MAKE THIS CLEARER. But I was doing. Bit by bit, I was doing.
I think the lesson here is that: there is nothing that says learning shouldn’t be hard. It is and can be hard. But maybe, as learners, we are far more likely to persevere through the task if it is also meaningful, and tied to an outcome that matters to us. I WANT to make more of my blog. I WANT to own this space more than I currently do. I am committed to figuring this out. But that doesn’t make it easy. If I had been tackling this task for reasons I didn’t choose, or for reasons someone else decided where important… I probably would have given up.
I persevered through a difficult task because I was personally invested in the outcome. There’s a thought to chew on when we think about student motivation.
In 2 hours, I got exactly one step of this process completely figured out and squared away. I bought my domain: www.missnightmutters.com now belongs to me. (Go ahead, type it into your address bar – you’ll find yourself right back here. Isn’t that SO COOL?!). There is satisfaction in that, in having ONE STEP done. But there is also frustration that ONLY one step is done.
Later today, I will chip away at the next step: choosing and paying for a hosting service. Then installing WordPress on that host. Then taking a really deep breath and moving the blog over.
It has been hard. It might get hard again. But I can do hard things when the process and the outcome really matter to me. I can do hard things.
My students, even in kindergarten, can do hard things. Our students can and will do hard things, and do them willingly, but only if the process and the outcome really matter to them.
Furthermore, the belief that they are capable of doing hard things is probably more valuable than the actual DOING.
As my grandma, who, after a stroke, taught herself to do left-handed needlepoint at the age of 85 (talk about doing hard things!) would say: “put that in your pipe and smoke it.”