What happens when we don’t understand something?
What happens when we don’t get how to do something?
What happens when we are faced with something new?
What do you do? How do you react?
What do I do? Am I ever faced with something I don’t understand? Or with something I don’t know how to do, or with something new?
Yes, of course.
Until I was 15 I had never driven a car. But I learnt how to do that. A 1962 Hillman Minx that you had to start with a crank handle when it decided not to work.
Before I was 16 I had never had a baby. But I learnt how to do that. I eventually had five of them.
Before I was 17 I had never been married. I learnt how to do that too, and the second time around I’m learning even more.
Before I was 25 I had never been on radio. I took to that like a duck to water. I learnt how to open the microphone and speak. I learnt how to record sponsorship announcements, and would you believe it, I learnt how to edit tape – yes, tape. Physically cutting the tape to delete the bits when I’d giggled instead of saying whatever was on the script. I learnt how to record interviews and edit them using digital recording and editing equipment, I learnt how to tell when Peter Cundell was pulling my leg, I learnt that when you’re on ABC Radio and you do a live broadcast some people want your autograph (weird, I know).
Before I was 29 I had never been to university. My first class – 9am Monday – was acting. Then Tech Theatre, then Drama, Voice and Speech, Movement (at 8am on Tuesdays), Theatre, English Literature, Education. 26 contact hours a week. Rehearsals after class and on weekends, lines to learn, props to find, costumes to search for, lights to hang on ceilings way way up high. Fresnels and barn doors and gels and a lighting board that looked like it had come off the flight deck of a space craft. Working in groups to choreograph a dance piece that signifies connectedness, performing in front of a paying audience, calling a show, stage managing. Poems to understand, The Summer of the 17th Doll to write about, Wilde, Shaw, Ibsen, Buzo, Williamson, Hero and Leander, An absolutely ordinary rainbow – a beautiful poem by Les Murray:
The word goes round Repins,
the murmur goes round Lorenzinis,
at Tattersalls, men look up from sheets of numbers,
the Stock Exchange scribblers forget the chalk in their hands
and men with bread in their pockets leave the Greek Club:
There’s a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can’t stop him.
And on the poem goes … until …
Evading believers, he hurries off down Pitt Street. (Les Murray, 1969)
Not to mention learning about Piaget and Vygotsky and grammar and teaching English and teaching Drama and pedagogy and curriculum and referencing and writing academically and caring for students, and having high expectations of them, and not saying (never saying) ‘good girl’ or ‘great work’ because those phrases are meaningless.
I learnt all that, and more, at university.
There was so much to learn; so so so much to learn.
Everything was new. And much of it was difficult.
Email came in while I was at university. We had to email our lecturers our assignments. We were told that we had to name our assignments properly otherwise the lecturer would receive 15 assignments all titled Assignment 1 and he wouldn’t be able to tell which belonged to whom.
The Internet came in while I was at university. Computer labs popped up all over the place. Girls would gather in the computer lab and ‘chat’ with each other … online. I could never work out why they didn’t go to the caf and chat. Students in my class were nervous about computers. Some had never used one before; they thought they might break it.
The internet was new, finding information using the internet was new; finding ways around the internet was new.
And for many it was difficult. New meant difficult.
In 1732 Dr Thomas Fuller said: All things are difficult before they are easy.
What happens when you don’t understand something?
What happens when you don’t get how to do something?
What happens when you are faced with something new?
How do you make the difficult thing, the new thing, easy?