Essay On Learning How To Swim

Learning to Swim Essay

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What exactly is a memory? According to Mariam Webster a memory is “the power or process of remembering what has been learned.” I had countless childhood memories growing up: learning how to ride a bike, my first kiss, the first time I got stitches etc. Those memories from my childhood made me into the head strong person I have become today. However, one of the most significant memories of my childhood was learning to swim. Almost every child will encounter this event in some period of his/her lifetime, and will actually discover a great deal from it. I consider this to be a classic event in my life that will always be cherished, because it has influenced and marked my life in so many different ways.
It was the summer of 2007, I nervously…show more content…

What exactly is a memory? According to Mariam Webster a memory is “the power or process of remembering what has been learned.” I had countless childhood memories growing up: learning how to ride a bike, my first kiss, the first time I got stitches etc. Those memories from my childhood made me into the head strong person I have become today. However, one of the most significant memories of my childhood was learning to swim. Almost every child will encounter this event in some period of his/her lifetime, and will actually discover a great deal from it. I consider this to be a classic event in my life that will always be cherished, because it has influenced and marked my life in so many different ways.
It was the summer of 2007, I nervously walked up to my future swim coach. Her pale face paced back and forth on the pool deck yelling words of encouragement to the swimmers. A lot of the swimmers had red faces, and were out of breath from exhaustion. I was new to the team and was immediately intimidated by such a show of pain. The instructor looked at me and told me to get in the water for a warm up. She gave me a test to evaluate my swimming skills. I quickly introduced myself to some of my lane mates and slipped into the deep blue water.
After that “warm up” I felt weaker than ever before. Ms. Conway constructed hard sets to prepare the mind for races and physical pain. My body began to slowly adapt to the grueling work and started to view every set as a challenge. In no time,

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Learning to Swim

learning experiences outside your comfort zone

The warmth of the summer sun disappears as I hit the water. The chlorine bites into my eyes and stings as it enters my nose. I begin to sink past the red shorts of the lifeguard standing a few feet away, out of reach and not offering any assistance as I sink in the water. My arms flail as I attempt to claw my way to the surface, to breathe. Panic keeps my legs and arms in motion. The silence is broken as I break through the surface and gasp on the chlorinated air. The voice of the lifeguard encouraging me to keep moving towards the pool stairs is muffled by churning water as I slap the surface over and over again in an attempt to swim. The few moments of terror end with my hand hitting the pool steps and I quickly climb out to sit with the other children in my swimming lesson. We all sit in silence, shivering, whimpering with snot running down our faces.

So began my first day of swimming lessons. There is no memory of the remaining lessons from that summer, just the memory of panic and the smell of chlorine.

My career as an educator within the post-secondary system began very much like my first swimming lesson: I fell into it. The first day of class was filled with panic and I flailed emotionally as I attempted to deliver a preset lesson plan. I don’t remember the rest of the lessons from that semester, just the memory of panic and the sensation of sweat running down my back as I was out of my comfort zone.

That first day taught me two important lessons. The first was that no matter how much you try to prepare to do something by practicing, there is no substitute for the real thing. Rehearsing a presentation and lesson isn’t the same thing as delivering it in front of a classroom; it is difficult to know how well students will be able to comprehend the material or anticipate all the questions they’ll have. The second and more important lesson was the realization that my experience at the front of the classroom is no different than the experience students have when exposed to lessons, materials, and concepts outside of their comfort zone. This helps me to empathize with the students’ experience of frustration and fear in learning new skills or new technologies.

Swimming is an individual effort and although there are standards to teach the individual strokes, each person develops their own perspective of what is swimming and how to succeed at staying afloat and keeping their head above water. If we look at children swimming in a pool, each will approach their need to stay afloat differently. As educators we need to address how we will keep individual students and the class from drowning and help them overcome any fears, misconceptions or difficulties they may have of the learning experience in or out of the water.

Originally written for CTL1000 — Foundations of Curriculum, OISE Fall 2005

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