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Road and Stars.This image is CC0!

Suppose you want to teach a child how to ride a bicycle. You give a bike to the child and tell it to drive. The goal is clear: a smooth ride. So you do not give any hints how the child should drive. Every time it fails or falls you repeat the goal “drive this bicycle.” Continuous failure is guaranteed.

This is what a reasonable teacher does instead: Explain the basics, like how to sit in the saddle and to hold the handle. What the pedals are for, maybe showing the movement of the hind wheel when the pedal is moved. Hold the child first. Do not discuss all details at once, add one after the other. Applaud for small improvements, cheer for the first drive without a helping hand. Console the child after a fall. And so on. All the time the goal is lingering somewhere, but it is seldom discussed. And the goal is not attractive in itself. Bicycle riding for a child is about self-esteem, body knowledge, and independence.

Value gives direction. Goals are only milestones. Action is the key.

Driving a bicycle is a process, teaching it is a process, and learning is a process. Process is action. And the child only will reach the goal if it understands the process. Not necessarily intellectually. How many adults really understand the physics of a bicycle? Did you know that in fast left turns your front wheel is turned right and vice versa? If you do not believe me, watch at a speedway motorcycle race. The processes are the actions that are going on, those of the learner and those of the teacher.

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