After spending the morning in a planning meeting with the executive director of Learning Forward (a professional learning organization for educators), I began to think about the bridge between knowing and doing. She challenged us as a state organization to get busy, with no excuses, and move from knowing to doing in order to impact the direction of professional learning for educators in our state. Schools and organizations are notoriously slow to change because we often don't want to leave our comfort zones or fail to provide the necessary education and support to facilitate effective implementation of the desired change. But schools are not alone in this problem.
I think about how many times we know better, but either don't do what we know we should, or do nothing at all! The other day when I went to teach my college class, it was seriously raining, yet there were so many cars who didn't have their lights on! In Kansas, it's a state law to turn on your lights if you are using your windshield wipers. There are blinkers on every vehicle to signal your intent to turn, yet so many drivers fail to do this simple step. All these things are designed to keep us safe, to let the other drivers know you're around or your intention to make a change, and yet although we "know," we don't follow through with the "do."
Sometimes we "know" a lot of stuff, but we don't know when or how to use that information. When we know how to do something and when to do it, then we are applying our knowledge and skills. The knowledge becomes more than useless trivia, it becomes useful. When we ask students to do more than memorize and perform rote recall, we are deepening their understanding because now they can actually use what they know.
Doing requires sufficient motivation to act. No one can make you do anything! So maybe the first thing we should examine is WHY do we avoid the "doing?" Sometimes it's because doing means we will become accountable or responsible. Doing means we have to stop gathering information and move forward. Doing might mean we make a mistake. Doing makes us uncomfortable when it's not what we usually do! We know we should be exercising and eating healthy choices and portions. But we often do - or fail to do - what we know to be the right thing. Doing may require some discipline on our part, and sometimes it just isn't fun.
But doing is also active and engaging! Doing makes us feel useful and worthwhile! The more we do the more experience we gain and the more confidence we build. Talking about doing something happens all the time and is usually just an exercise in futility. Letting others do it for you makes you feel helpless or unworthy and offers you no investment. But doing WITH others is also beneficial too. No one expects you to do it alone. Doing requires you get dirty, sweaty, and involved. And in the end, you can smile and say "I/we did it!"
So instead of just thinking about it, or talking about it, or know you probably should, - just get up and do it! Cross that bridge from knowing to doing and see what results you get on the other side!
Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and putting one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.
Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet
Action alleviates anxiety.
B.J. Gallagher, Power of Positive Doing
Even if you fall on your face, you're still moving forward.
Victor Kiam, businessman