The Discipline of Learning

But first, I had to focus on the discipline of learning.

The days that the students had to work on the coding were difficult for many of them. They struggled to keep their attention focused on their coding tasks for more than a few minutes.

The computers were along the walls in the room and around an island of tables in the middle. This created a circular path in the classroom that I used to observe the students’ progress.

My job, on these learning days, was to walk around and around on that path. My shoes were leather-soled, and so the students could hear my footsteps, almost like a metronome. Around and around. I almost always walked counter-clockwise, perhaps to be a little more disruptive.

As I walked the path I could see students whose screens were on Facebook or other social sites. As I approached, they would quickly flip back to the course. And I would just continue walking by them. This pattern would be repeated, but they always knew when I was walking by. Each time, they would have to refocus on their coding task.

Over and over again.

On those walkabouts, I began to more deeply understand how hard it was for students to deeply focus on a task. That self-discipline is critical for Deep Learning – for them to potentially experience the Flow. So I kept walking.

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