Our Journeys Continue
When this year began, we were told to come up with a big question. A question that didn’t really have a right or wrong answer, but was something that each individual always wondered. My big question was, why are people afraid to make mistakes when it’s proven that we learn from them? I asked this question because it was something that I was guilty of. When this class began, I was afraid of change and trying new things because they were unfamiliar and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. After spending this year trying to find an answer to this question, I figured out that sitting around hoping for change was much more foolish than putting myself out there and making a few mistakes along the way.
Being a part of this Open Source Learning network gave every student a huge amount of freedom. Whether we deserved it or not, which I think that most of it did, this freedom really helped all of us grow. Grow as people, students, friends and as a network; we all became better and more responsible people with the freedom that we were given. If we wouldn’t have had this freedom, Terry Lawless would have never come to our class and we would have never gone to Yosemite! Structured guidelines are only good for one thing, sucking creative ideas out of imaginative people. Organized freedom on the other hand provides a gateway for free thinking and implemented ideas. Did we earn this freedom? I think that we did. Did we honor it? I don’t know if I can speak for everyone, but I sure did!
I wish that I could say that there are a lot of fictional stories that relate to my journey in this class, but I don’t read that much fiction so this is going to take some thought and creativity. I would say that Jack London’s books embody the sense of adventure that this year embodied. This year also had a congruity with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland as dreams turned into realities. All of our masterpieces began as crazy ideas that somehow became real and tangible things. I also have a deep connection with the character Ender from the book Ender’s game. Ender spent the entire book thinking that the game was controlling him when it was really him controlling the game. This connects with our learning; in tradition classrooms we are taught to memorized facts that will only last until the test is done, but in Open Source Learning, we are shown that we are in charge of our on learning and make out of it what we want. We all drive our own future and don’t need to depend on the school’s curriculum to gain the knowledge that we need to be successful. We are playing school, not the other way around.
I have always had a passion for Yosemite National Park, and now my classmates, and teacher, do as well! Through my masterpiece, I became more connected to the park and the people in it. Yosemite has always been my driving factor, when it comes to visiting the park nothing can get in my way. I’m normally not the biggest fan of fundraising, doing paperwork and public speaking, but when it came to my project, these became things that I wanted to do because they meant that my classmates and I would be closer to making the trip happen. I was hoping to inspire my classmates to indulge in the wonder that Yosemite has to offer, but it turns out that I inspired others as well. I could have never expected the reaction that I received from the people in the park that helped make this program possible. Even now that the trip is over and done with, they are still in touch with me and are helping me find more ways to visit the park and continue my learning there. The support and help that I have been receiving from them has been incredibly humbling, especially because this support is coming from people that I greatly admire and look up to.
Oh man, something from this course that makes me laugh out loud? Well, Dr. Preston’s wife mocked his teaching style during an improve game in Yosemite in front of all of his students! The laugh out loud aspect of this was answered by the intense laughter in the background after it happened! There is a clip of it in my masterpiece video.
I sadly had to miss an entire week of presentations because I was pursuing my own passion of outdoor education at the Outdoor School, but from what I saw on people’s blogs and the few presentations that I had the pleasure of actually being present for, all of the projects covered some sense of self-discovery and a bigger picture. Edmond described how writing his novel helped him discover parts of himself that he never knew. Sam’s presentation, who had the entire class in awe, showed us how finding your niche can help you overcome any hardship and express yourself in a way that makes you happy. The projects were also innovative and capable of being expanded upon. ClassyU for example is something that I will definitely use in college and is something Sarah and Rachel can continue to work on after they graduate. Nakesha and Danny had a similar project. Colter’s website was also very innovative. His idea of encouraging people to just “Go” is awesome and catchy. Each new idea that people presented upon were new and creative and were things that could be taken with them once high school is over which was the goal for this Masterpiece project.
The process I went through to make my masterpiece happen was the epitome of a hero’s journey. When I found out about NatureBridge I was called to my adventure. When our date was reserved, the threshold was passed and my mentor was established. I went through all of the challenges of recruiting classmates and preparing paperwork and was plummeted into the abyss as I waited to hear if the program would let Dr. Preston’s daughter join us. Without Tara meant no Dr. Preston, which meant no trip. When the reservation coordinator went out of her way to ensure that Tara would be able to join us, the transformation occurred and I was able to work with NatureBridge to plan a program that worked out for both of us. The actual trip itself was the atonement, and the literal return home and the reaction that I got from my classmates was the end of the adventure. The cool part is that the end of this adventure is just the beginning of my journey!