I’m out at the Wakonse South Conference on College Teaching. This is not the type of conference where you sit quietly and listen to experts. There are sessions to guide us, but you are expected (almost forced) to participate in each. This year’s theme is Reflection.

The opening activity really opened my eyes. We were discussing a taxonomy of learning (not the famous Bloom’s taxonomy, an alternative, simpler, but still quite complex). As the speakers wrapped up, they had us put away our notes, and asked us to recreate the steps in the taxonomy. They had seemed logical a moment ago, and I got only a few things on my paper before I was completely stuck. So much for lecturing on something and expecting your students to remember it!

Then they had us work in groups to try to recreate the taxonomy. Bingo! Within 3-5 minutes, a group of 4 of us had recreated most of the taxonomic chart. That made it clear to me how important peer interaction is. I do a lot of exercises where I ask students to try things on their own, and I don’t do enough of asking them think for a minute, then work with peers. Note to self: change this.

The resort (rustic, not fancy) had a zipline open for us this afternoon. Yes, I had to try it. On the ground, it doesn’t look so bad. Up on the platform, I began to melt with anxiety and fear.

As with so many things, the hardest part is letting go. I had to use my lungs and vocal cords in a loud cowabunga to get myself off the platform.

The second time was easier, but again, the hardest part is letting go.

I contemplated a third time, and decided not to. Maybe I should have. I don’t think it is ever easier to let go.

I am thinking on matters in my personal life. Wondering if it is becoming time to let some things go. In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver is on my mind, so much wisdom, so much pain. I hope for character and courage in facing both the near and the far future.

From In Blackwater Woods:

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.