Monday, June 17, 2013

Into the Deep End of the Pool

My kids had swimming lessons this morning and it got me thinking about how much I used to dread swimming lessons when I was young. As we were heading out the door, I had a strange pit in my stomach, and I am pretty sure it was just that feeling of remembering my fear of having to jump into the deep end of the pool, which is still a strong association for me with the whole idea of "swimming lessons"--even 30 years later.

Which is silly, I know...I'm a grown-up now, and I know how to swim, and I actually enjoy making a big splash off the diving board and all that.

But there's an analogue here...

Image from VentureofFaith
I'm teaching an online graduate course right now on curriculum development and evaluation. It is daunting stuff for the teachers and administrators in the course. The ideas in the readings are involved and challenging. The format of the course is even challenging for some--I have several for whom the online venue is a little off-putting.

And if I'm honest, it's a little off-putting for me. I'm feeling like I've jumped into the deep end of the pool. I know I can swim--I've had the "swimming lessons" I need, technologically-speaking. But I don't just want to tread water, and I sure hope I'm not belly-flopping here. I'd like to think I'm making a graceful entry into the water, and gliding along smoothly.

But let's be real: I'm no Michael Phelps. I didn't break the surface smoothly; my strokes are a little ragged so far. I'm making forward progress, but I know I need to refine my technique a little.

It can be scary diving into the deep end. And that's true of kids in swimming lessons, true of graduate students getting into heavy content in an unfamiliar milieu, and of professors exploring new formats for their teaching practice!


  1. Great analogy! I still remember the first time I jumped in, or rather was dumped into, the deep end of the pool. Suddenly all the skills that I had been taught, but was too afraid to use, came together and I could swim. I still found comfort in the lifeguard that stood nearby but I was doing it on my own.
    It feels that way with this technology class, as well. Until I am forced to use the skills that I have been taught or have discovered, I am fearful. When I jump or dive into the deep end, it will all come together. At least, I am hoping that it will:)

    1. Another friend who had read this post emailed me something like this: "If your head is above water, you're on top. Think about all the water under isn't over you."

      I thought that was a helpful reminder--even though it can seem daunting when you feel like you're paddling furiously...

      Also, at swimming lessons this morning, my daughter went off the board for the first time. Into the deep end, kids!