Today was our official last day of class, so a few of my classmates shared their passion projects with the rest of us. I didn’t feel like mine was worth sharing because I hadn’t reached a final product, but as I listened to the presentations I realized that everyone’s project was an imperfect journey – like mine. And maybe that was the point. One student’s project was to be a better cook, so she cooked through recipes from the minimalist baker and blogged about it. Did she know everything about cooking? No! But she learned a significant amount about cooking, ingredients, and techniques. Another student filmed and edited a video about her progress learning how to make bowls in pottery class. Another student had been working on coding a video game using herself and her fiancée as characters. And another student told us about the different mindfulness apps that he had been using to be mindful of his mental health during the semester.
After hearing all of these presentations I realized that only one of them had a final, physical finished product (pottery). Most students spoke about the journey that their project took them, showed us their progress, but did not have a finalized end product. I realized that the ‘end’ product for everyone was their learnings from the entire inquiry process. Almost every person that spoke, talked about how their inquiry started out as one thing, and evolved into another. Suddenly I realized that my inquiry journey wasn’t worth less than anyone else’s because I didn’t have a final product, it was the journey through inquiry that is the most important part.
Through this exploration of the concept of inquiry and my passion project I realized how uncomfortable I was with the total freedom of the choice to study whatever I wanted. At the beginning of this passion project it took me a month just to figure out what I wanted to inquire into, because I had never been given that freedom before. I struggled most of the semester with not feeling like I was doing ‘enough’ or providing enough evidence that I was accomplishing my goals. It wasn’t until near the middle of November when I had my mindfulness epiphany that I really felt like I understood the inquiry process. I wish that I had both of those moments of clarity earlier in the semester, because I feel like it would have better helped me in my moments of stress early on in the semester, but I recognize that the series of events that occurred during my passion project was necessary to bring me to the place I am now.
Although the concept of inquiry intimidated me at first, I now see how important it is in making students feel autonomous in their education. When students are passionate and interested in a topic they are excited about doing research and will be more engaged with their studies. I appreciate that our professor Valerie allowed us to struggle with our autonomy until we figured out what worked for us as individuals. So many times I wanted a concrete answer from her and for her to tell me what to do, but she always encouraged me to do what it was that I thought was best and helped to provide me with whatever resources she thought would be helpful. I’m so glad I experienced this class in the first semester because it reinforced that all of our learning journeys are going to be different, and that it’s important that I take charge of my own journey and explore things that inspire me. I plan to take what I learned through my passion project about exercise, stress relief, and mindfulness, and apply them to next semester in the hopes that I will be more relaxed, and not let anxiety get in the way of my studies.
After Monday, I’ll have an entire month off from school and I plan on using the time wisely to get back on track with the 21 day fix exercise program I’ve been using on and off for the past year. I plan on keeping this blog active to discuss my progress, and track my thoughts and musings throughout the rest of the school year. Christmas baking season is approaching quickly so maybe I’ll throw some of that on here too!