Learning by Doing

Observation is a great way to learn but it requires a great deal of other skills such as attention to detail, imagining, critical thinking, and reflection. It is a theoretical way of learning. We are assuming just because you saw how to do something, you will be able to do it.

We all know this is not a complete way of learning. It would be very difficult to watch someone build a house and then go build one unless we had a lot of knowledge of building to back us up. But what is the critical part that is missing?

It is the body in motion. We wouldn't know what the wood on our hands feels like or how heavy that rafter is or what the force of a saw cutting wood feels like. It takes practice to teach our bodies how to do something for the first time.

This is where the apprenticeship is critical for our success as learners. We learn what it feels like to sit down each day to write or how the paintbrush feels in the hand. We acclimate to the nature of the task.

How beautiful this is. When we learn by doing we are recruiting every one of our senses. Touch is the sense that is most neglected in learning in a traditional classroom. Did you know that it also has to do with our perception of where we are in space? We can also sense density when we touch things. So the ability to learn by doing involves a lot more than just practicing the task at hand. It makes the learning real, not theoretical.

How does this apply to nature journaling? We have to get out and explore for ourselves! It's one thing to look at pictures of wolves on the internet, it's another to go to the zoo and see the furry beast in person. When we pick a flower we can feel how strong or delicate the stem is and we expand our nature-knowledge about it and about others like it.

The best part about being a nature journaler is that the boundaries of the classroom expand to everything you can get your hands on. We can learn by playing, collecting and touching objects.

Learning to "get our hands dirty" so to speak will pay off in many areas of life. Our food becomes something to manipulate and experience, our relationships deepen with a hug, our world becomes a richer place when we do-it-ourselves.

I encourage you to go out and try things you've never done before, take a class in person or ask a friend to tag along on what they love to do. Learning by doing is so much fun!