Learning Something New

When was the last time you learned something new? What about something new that has nothing to do with your job or profession or degree? I consider myself a lifelong learner. I believe that phrase was in my first “educational philosophy” that I had to write in college. I am sure it has been in various cover letters I’ve written over the years. My email signature at work currently reads, “Always learning, Amy”. I am an avid reader and I share my new learning with others in many ways, so I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that I am a learner.

I have recently been a learner in a new and different way that had nothing to do with work, and which was not connected to anyone else or anything I’ve done before. The experience felt so fresh to me. I signed up for a virtual course with a content creator I have admired for years on Instagram. Every year I choose a word of the year, and I do that by following the journaling prompts created by Susannah Conway. I love her prompts for this annual event, for photo challenges, and more. I finally decided to bite the bullet and pay for a full course, both to support her and to challenge myself.

The course was structured through a Learning Management System where Susannah uploaded the course work. Each week consisted of at least three videos, accompanied by written content detailing what was said in the video, as well as a task for us to try on our own. I appreciated that this was self-paced, as I didn’t have time on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evening to do coursework after a long work day, but I could catch up on the weekends when I had more time. Also, I have access to the coursework for months after the official six-week course is over, so I never felt rushed.

Normally I am not an auditory learner. If I had a choice between learning something new by watching a video or by reading a description, I would choose reading. I watch How To videos only when they are my only option, or when I’m trying some DIY project for which I have no natural skills (which rarely goes well!). However, in this case, Susannah’s videos were an incredible learning tool for me. The content was visual in nature, and seeing multiple examples in each video, along with written follow-up really helped me learn. Being able to listen, look, pause and then journal was a great structure for me as a learner.

The course, called 78 Mirrors, was a guide to using Tarot Cards for your own self reflection. Before this course, I knew NOTHING about tarot cards. I had rolled my eyes at the thought of them in the past. One of our first assignments was to buy 3 tarot card decks. I found the cheapest I could on Amazon, because I didn’t want to overcommit to something I might regret. By week two of the course, I had already purchased two more decks that I found to be gorgeous, and I only knew about them because each of Susannah’s videos included examples of tarot cards from multiple decks.

One of our next assignments was to create a journal specifically for this course, so we could capture our learning about each of the 78 cards in a tarot deck in one place. I like to journal, and had fun creating this. More importantly, before I hit play on every video, I had my journal out to the appropriate page, and my decks out in front of me, ready to take notes. At the time, I wasn’t sure if or when I might use those notes, but I have gone back to them many times. In addition, writing down my new thoughts and reflections helped solidify learning for me.

An aspect of the course I truly appreciated was how the content was broken up. A tarot deck consists of 78 cards, separated into 4 suits (like a deck of cards), plus an additional 22 cards. each suite has number cards (Ace- 10), plus the court cards (Page, Knight, Queen and King). The videos went through the number cards first, so we looked at the Ace of all four suits together, then the twos, and so on. Then we studied the court cards, and finally the additional 22 cards. I appreciated that for each element, we saw multiple examples, heard various interpretations, and even saw sample journal entries related to the cards. More importantly, the whole purpose of this was to make this your own, to benefit yourself in your own reflection, which felt freeing and empowering.

Throughout this learning experience what I appreciated was the loose structure with autonomy to make it my own, the visual and written supports, the community (there was a Facebook group created where we could share our thoughts with others in the course), and the excitement when I realized the learning had sunk in! I’m happy to report that still love learning and am glad to have had this unique experience.

A sample of some of my Tarot cards
What my study session often looked like, with Diego needing to be involved!

What was the last new learning challenges you gave yourself?

About Amy's Reflections

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
This entry was posted in Learning, Reflection and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Learning Something New

  1. I enjoy learning and collecting hobbies, which means I’m usually learning something new with my time. My most recent challenge was learning to read Mandarin, which is pretty slow-moving, but as I’m doing it all on my own, I can’t help but feel a little pride when I can understand tiny bits of Facebook statuses. Anyway, thanks for this post!

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