Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Beginner Bird

When we learn something new, the first thing we do, is try to copy or mimic something outside of us. We babble, then talk. Take steps, then walk. Some neighborhood birds got me thinking about this. I heard a strange bird call, one I'd never heard, very peculiar, a screech-croak like a bluejay with a sore throat. Looking up I saw two gray birds. One flew up then down: wing flash, they were mockingbirds. But what bird were they mimicking? They seemed agitated, and I realized that the call must be their own. Like seeing a hummingbird sit down for the first time, experiencing the mockingbird's own call tickles the senses. I walked around the corner and scanned the tree and rooftops to see what might be bothering them. On a roof peak perched a crow. The mockingbirds swooped and screeched at it, but the crow sat calm. Occasionally it snapped, hoping to scare.

What made me compare a mockingbird to a beginner, I don't know. Perhaps because this semester's class was full of strong individuals, each with their own voice. None had made books before, so they were trying out each structure, each assignment. Did it fit? How could they make the assignment their own? How could they realize their own work in book form? First they made models to look like what I showed them. Then they remodeled to their own taste. By the end, they had found their own songs.

1 comment:

Lizzie said...

That's a great analogy Alisa. It does give a good description of the process that a learner goes through, when trying a new craft or skill.
I taught a group of girls (aged 8-13) for a week's bookbinding course. They began by just making what I told them, as I showed them, but by the end of the week, everything they made was tweaked a little to their own taste - and they decorated Everything they made! It was rewarding to see that development and growth of confidence and knowledge. They loved it - so did I.