The Only Way to Learn

I didn’t learn to swim in a pool where I would have had the comfort of a firm bottom and chemically clear water. I didn’t even learn in a calm, smooth lake. I learned to swim in the ocean. I entered bravely, a small four year old with red ringlets fanning around my chubby cheeks, wearing a yellow-skirted bathing suit that only a four year old could wear. As I got closer the salty mist covered my entire body with a thin film of salty water. I brushed my hair from my face and pranced towards the waves.
The ocean was just the kind of teacher I needed. I had never really learned anything from the chipper lifeguards at the community pool who secured me in at least two different types of floatation devices and always kept a firm hand on my stomach. I did learn by being relentlessly beat against the shore until I was able to hold myself up. It was the teacher who never gushes praise, and always wants you to do better, but once you succeed you have reached the inner circle, and can enjoy the full extent of its raw knowledge.

Once I was able to get my bearings, I was in the inner circle. I floated and jumped over waves with the adults while the young children ran across the wet sand and splashed in the tidal pools. Less than an hour ago, I had been one of them.





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Ms. S-P said...
Oct. 29, 2010 at 2:43 pm
This excerpt made me rethink the concept of learning to swim.  I love the sentence "It was the teacher who never gushes praise..."  The last sentence is precious as well.  Thank you.
 
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