Learn something entirely new for you and reflect on the process and your ZPD.
What should you learn?
For this exercise to be interesting from a teacher’s professional development perspective, you should choose something that is not only brand new to you, but that is also complex and somewhat complicated. We know, it’s sound kind of strange to aim for complicated; something too simple won’t help you figure out your zone of proximal development. It’s going to take time to truly understand this thing, but it should be enjoyable. You do not have to master it.
Here are some examples of possible learning endaevours:
- Learning how to play the Heroclix game.
- Learning how to play Magic the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh.
- Learning how to play any complex board game (like Zombicide, we’re not talking snakes and ladders here ;o).
- Learning how to read and write another language with a different alphabet or writing system (e.g. like how different Japanese is to English).
- Learning how to play a multi-tonal instrument (e.g. guitar, piano, violin, not the recorder).
- Learning how to play a real-time strategy video game (e.g. Starcraft or Age of Empires).
- Learning the rules and strategies of American football.
Try to choose something for which you’ll be able to find lots of references, free if possible, to help you understand its intricacies. YouTube and Google will be probably at the top of your list, but you can of course get books, magazines or other reference material to help you along the way. Of course, other people are also part of the available resources.
So what’s the point?
The idea behing this exercise is for you to figure out how your zone of proximal development evolves, to take stock of your learning strategies, and parallel this to what might be happening in a younger learner’s brain when they are tackling something they find new, complex and complicated.