Speaking of Memories…

<rant warning–but I promise it will connect to learning>

So every time it snows, like it is in the Lower Mainland right now, I’m semi-traumatically reminded of my 16th birthday present from my grandmother. It was a cherub box and I was seriously disturbed as to why my grandmother was giving me a box with naked winged babies on it. It had a lock on it, so I eventually found a use for it to hide cigarettes or whatever contraband I needed to hide from my parents.

It was not just this disturbing box. The card was equally disturbing. She used a quote about driven snow to launch into a talk about abstinence. I wish I could remember the exact quote, but it had something to do with choices being like footprints in snow. Basically, the choices you make cannot be erased.

Other than this memory being a demonstration of how we process memories (ie. episodic memory is powerful and we forget details as we age), I think this quote that I can’t remember is a great discussion point for learning.

While it’s wonderful, albeit disturbing for me, that my grandmother tried to give me the ‘talk’ for my 16th birthday, the quote was all wrong. Snow can be erased. It melts, it gets shovelled, or others tread on top of your treads. Learning can change your snow patch.

This was definitely not what my grandmother wanted me to get out of that quote. She was hoping for scare tactics to keep me away from premarital sex and teenage pregnancy. While I succeeded in finishing high school without, this was not the result of learning or my grandmothers attempt at teaching.

Learning from mistakes is a powerful thing. These learning events often become defining moments in our lives, as they change us on a deeper, more involved level. These learning events often produce strong episodic memories, as we can recall how we made the mistake and the process we underwent learning from it.

While I cannot recall this silly snow quote that led to my association between my grandmother and snow, I can remember in detail many great learning experiences from that era that we’re the result of teenage mistakes.

Our lifelong learning journey, not choices, are like footprints in snow. We can rub them out, we can build on them, we can shovel them, we can melt them down. It’s really up to you and the opportunities you seek.




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