Then it happened again. I felt like a few times a felt before. That moment of symbiosis named "learn". I've got into the "flow" of Csikszentmihaly. (It requires a few minutes of practice just to ignore the characters and pronounce it correctly: cheek-sent-m-hy-ee. Really simple for our hungarian fellows, though).
Last October 23th and 24th some coworkers, teachers and me have developed activities in the Artur Mendonça State School, in virtue of brazilian National Week of Science and Technology. I've ministered a short programming class using educational games from Code.org whereas Maíra Bello and Pablo Pinheiro, my very gentle fellows to whom I am very thankful, talked about oportunities for young students in multinational enterprises. In 2012 I've made a similar class with Liferay sponsorship that then gave some gifts that were drawn among the participants.
I am a former student of that school, that is located in Moreno, 28 km away from Recife. That's where I've lived as a teenager and where I finished high school. Now, I make a point of going back there and work for it as a volunteer. It is grateful to know that your former teachers are now your fellows, your equals, but the students are also your equals. Thus, by transitivity, I see that in fact teachers and students are equal, but they are attached to a hierarchical and disciplinary structure that discharacterizes that egalitarian relationship. But this is a subject for another post.
I choose to play with programming with the students. Programming is part of my work. But it also makes part of a passion that revolutionized my life and opened many doors. I don't know whether doors will be open in the same way for all that students, but surely the doors of the mind will be reconfigured. However, it was not the main reason for which I went there.
When you go out high school, you still learn. You learn a lot. You become an adult, and it is just the begining. You thus understand how you learn well and how you learn not so well. You learn that you have to learn uninterruptedly to do your work better and better. You learn what awaits you when you put your feet in the world. When you have to get by. There are so many new things that I can't be quiet, instead of comfortable with my work. I want to share what I've seen in my new world. A little bit of this new world that includes to know that everyone can learn with a facilitator, a mentor who is also your equal, who can speak your language, who PLAYS with you, who empathizes with you, who has the needed experience to orient, but who has not the many vices that prejudices and undermine the facilitation proccess.
This present year, different from what happened in 2012, I decided to use online resources to play with programming. The school's structure is precarious and there's low internet bandwidth available for everyone. I had to bring with myself a home router so that the students could connect to do the activities, but it was not enough. Some of them did not manage to connect despite many attempts to do so. This was kind of frustrating. A lesson was learned: improve planning to set up a better structure next time. On the other hand, I see that we got out from nothing at all to a learning session that had the most part of the attendees excited for playing with programming and having regulated learning experiences that were... Fun! Exciting! That made us to stay in the classroom long after the estimated time was up so much that I had to lunch a cold food after ignoring the successive warns that my former teacher made. I just couldn't! I was playing too!
The interaction was one of the most interesting things. Between one laughter and another of the Red Bird, I could see in the face of the students the real meaning of epic win that Jane McGonigal cites in his classic TED Talk. The students' exultation for beating the challenges was both visible and audible. And if they often lack motivation, pursuing activities that stimulate this kind of feeling, of epic win, is an auspicious way to experiment.
I hope to repeat that experiment soon. To reach more students. To go beyond. To have them search for information more deeply and, while interacting with one another, manage to promote experiences that culminate with the construction of their own new, mature, deep and interconnected knowledge. For me to be able to facilitate and dive myself in the learn of this proccess is one of the great pleasures I have in my life.