I ran Tough Mudder again last weekend and it has inspired me to blog again, but for a different reason.
Last year I was on a high after Tough Mudder for the next week. The course was complicated and unpredictable and the challenges between the set obstacles were hard and engaging. The support that each "competitor" had to give each other in order to get through the physical challenge was amazing! This created incredible camaraderie and a community feel. I didn't even care that at the end of the event the water in the showers had run out (that was just part of the experience and bonding). I was a bit concerned about the commercial nature of the event but the positive spirit of the day overcame my cynicism.
I enjoyed it so much last time I had to test myself again.
This time the organisation was even better, the showers after were wonderful, everything ran like clockwork. I had a great time, it was fun, I enjoyed doing it again with @eccajoy, BUT something was missing...
The course was not challenging enough. There was nothing interesting or engaging between the obstacles, and there was not enough mud, just some dirty water. This meant people didn't have to help each other, you were not on the edge of what you could do, there was very little that challenged, nothing needing the support of other people around. Unlike last year, you could easily do it as an individual so much of the interaction with other mudders was lost.
It also seemed that the organisers were going through the motions, the problem this created was that the commercial nature of the event came through. This overwhelmed the community focus of the event, of not "being a race" and the importance of "helping fellow mudders".
So how does this relate to education?
1. When you are learning you need to be in the flow zone, too easy and you work within yourself, it is uninteresting and boring; too hard and you can't do it and you give up.
2. In learning you need mess and unpredictability, it engages and challenges the learner. The best structured and well run lesson doesn't always mean the best learning is occurring.
3. Incidental learning through extra-curricular or playground play is as important as formal classroom activities.
4. Learning in teams is good and it doesn't need to be a competition.
5. They said in the build up at the start this was the "hardest ever course", it wasn't, not even close and that was pretty disappointing. So, don't say things which are not true or you can't deliver, it just looks and feels bad and you lose the learners' trust.
PS. I am still sore from the event, 3 days later.