Tag Archives: Lifelong learning

My Learning Network

I recently had a quick getaway to Borealis Basecamp, which is located about an hour outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. My lifelong friends and I were there to celebrate one of our crew’s 60th birthday and, of course, chase aurora borealis shows.

These gals are my learning network. Together we have traveled far and wide to learn new things while enjoying each other’s company. We have gone on long distance hikes in Ireland, France, Spain, and Portugal. We’ve hiked the Grand Canyon three times together. We feverishly share books, most recently Lessons in Chemistry. This trip was one more opportunity to add to our collective knowledge banks.

And sure, I learned a lot on this trip about the aurora borealis, (perhaps most notably that’s it’s not as easy to spot as shown in the movies!) I learned interesting facts about the boreal forest biome in general as well as the Alaskan pipeline. I learned about the sport of sled dog racing and the lifestyles of caribou.

But perhaps the most powerful learning was not factual in nature. On one day we went on a 6-hour snowmobile tour, which, before we left, I calculated would be about 5 hours and 59 minutes too long.

I wasn’t far off. I am a careful person by nature, and fear had it’s death grip on me as I tried to maneuver the machine without toppling over into a snow bank at best or a tree at worst. But my friends helped me with tips such as leaning away from a fall and using the palm of my hand on the throttle. They coached and cheered me on.

I had a flash of how I encourage my students all the time to take risks and be unafraid of mistakes. I soon realized that I often do so from a lofty perch. This experience reminded of how much I live in my comfort zone and how branching out and trying new things can make me stronger. How pushing myself in this way can help me handle more mundane fears in life, such as initiating a difficult conversation or saying no in certain situations.

I would lie if I said that I learned to love snowmobiling and mastered the beastly machine. I did not technically like a lot of it. But now that it is in my rear-view mirror, I am extremely glad I did it. This is an example of the vast hidden curriculum of traveling with my adventurous learning network.