Jen starts out a post on Fire in the Kitchen with a statement, “I Can’t Cook”– she follows a nice thought path of using that as a metaphor for her ideas (and frustrations) on what she sees (I think) as an overemphasis on the tools of Web 2.0 and a frustration at one size fits all “recipes” for using such technology in education.
I like/respect Jen. She was fun last year as a twitter-a-holic, and then she has recently pulled back to seriously ponder the mania. She’s asking herself some tough questions. And I got to meet her at Northern Voice and she’s just as cool in person.
At the same time, I dont fully grok her discontent, but am interested to see it play out.
But as one who reaches for them often, too often perhaps– metaphors are at last 2 edged devices. It was her opening statement of “I Can’t” that got me thinking to how much power we give to those 2 (actually 3 since there is a grammatical contraction) words. But its my contention we too easily fall into our “I Can’ts” and don’t try enough to go beyond them.
I can’t do math.
I can’t be creative.
I can’t write.
I can’t create a web site.
I can’t play music.
I can’t edit a video,
I can’t do 100 pushups.
When we fall into “I Can’ts” we lock ourselves into filling that as truth. I tried to call Jen on that in her comments. If she says, “I can’t cook” then that’s cuts off effort to counter the assertion. She responds:
Alan, I mention that I “can’t,” only to emphasize that it’s because I’ve not gathered the information and abilities I need. If I take the time to do that, I’m sure I’ll be able to make you the saltiest squirrel pie you’ve ever tasted!
If you stretch that attitude to a student who says, “I can’t do math” do you just let them not try?
Stop “I Cant-ing” and start trying.
Like being “smart” there is some illusion that cooking food is some arcane task mastered by a few heralded geniuses. C’mon, it is really simple- you apply heat to food. Toss in some seasoning. There are more ways to go right than wrong.
And I’ve said myself before “I can’t cook” but now where I am the only one on my house now to make food I am going at it with experimental zeal. The photo above? A complete experiment, and ti came out great. Others don’t. But I am not going to flail in my kitchen about what I ab unable to do; I’m gonna try now to see what I can do.
A few years ago I said, “I can’t run” –then I went out and tried, and ran a few half marathons and than a full one. My point is not to brag (well maybe a little bit), but to say, let’s not lock ourselves into “I Can’t”.
Say it enough and it becomes true.
Of course, I am tangenting off of Jen’s post, and I bet she does cook as her family is likely not starving. But I am tuned in now when I hear people recite thing things they “Can’t” do. Don’t tell me the things you “Can’t” do and tell me the things you are trying to do.
Oh one more thing.
I can’t fold fitted sheets. I have had detailed lessons, followed the steps, and it still defies me. Someone call me on my stuff.
The post "“I Can’t” is a Self Fulfilling Prophecy" was originally rescued from the bottom of a stangant pond at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2008/08/i-cant-is-a-self-fulfilling-prophecy/) on August 20, 2008.