I met up with Lucy last night in London and, as we walked by the Thames, we saw a fountain. I’ve seen them like this before, by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam: it’s a large base with squared off sections, the water jets shoot straight up so, if you time it right, you can jump into the middle and stand there, surrounded by walls of water, but staying dry.On a hot summers evening it was too good to miss and, timing it well, we ran across the base in between streams and stood there in a room made of water, totally dry. As you cross over, you think, ‘what’s the worst that will happen…‘? I guess that the jets shooting up as you walk across would get you pretty wet, as would the water blowing into the middle of the square, but really the reward is worth the risk. The risk gives you a shared experience, and memories like that are worth it.
Learning is about taking risks: departing from what we know to be true and opening up our minds to the new. To learn is to change, and change can be uncomfortable as it requires us to give up some ‘truths‘ that we may hold dear.
It’s about the right amount of risk, the right amount of disturbance, and the reward making the effort worthwhile: all things we need to balance in learning design.
Get it right and we are standing in the sunshine, marvelling at how brave we were, get it wrong and you risk getting soaking wet or losing the context for learning, which is when learning becomes an abstract experience, devoid of meaning in your everyday life.
Sometimes taking a few risks is worth the reward: what are you going to learn? What’s the worst that could happen?