Like most people, I’ve been totally absorbed by the Winter Olympic and Paralympic games. So, a few weeks ago, between eating doughnuts and staring, open mouthed at the feats of bravery and beauty on the screen before me, I made a sudden, and life affirming decision.
I was going to learn to ice-skate.
Now, this story requires a little context about me. I am very clumsy and hate the cold. It had not escaped me that these factors may suggest that ice-skating would not really be the hobby most suited to me. Usually my spare time is filled with knitting, playing board games and reading: all activities which mainly rely on me sitting still in a warm environment, whilst keeping my arms and legs to myself.
So why ice-skating, I hear you, and my assembled, baffled family, cry?
‘You’re going to stand in an ice box with blades on your feet?’ asked one concerned friend.
As with most learning journeys we go on, we as learners are looking to grow and develop, ultimately being able to do something that we couldn’t do before. For me, ice-skating was a bit of a daydream, but also, a big challenge to me as someone who creates learning solutions. Could I take on a learning experience that would be totally out of my comfort zone, and still find a way to succeed?
I spent hours poring over videos, articles and forum posts, trying my best to pick up on best practice tips and advice. I was able to follow another intrepid potential skater on their journey via their blog, her scrapes and successes giving me the understanding and the confidence to get up and give it a go. Of course, once I was finally on the ice, trying my hardest to remain standing, my online research did seem awfully far away. However, without this initial input, my doughnut fuelled dreams of gliding gracefully along the ice would have remained just that. And, once I’d calmed down a bit, some of the tips I’d seen started to come back; feet in a ‘V’ shape, stand up straight, don’t look at the floor.
By researching and learning in a safe, non-threatening, non-icy environment, I was able to face my fear, gain confidence and even pick up some key things which would help me feel capable and become skilled more quickly. I’m still a bit wobbly on my skates, but my online work helped pave the way for my face-to-face classes, helping me to break the ice but not one of my legs.
Five weeks in and I’ve got no bruises, a smug expression and a level one badge to sew on to my jumper. Result.