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Molly Robbins's picture
Published
Dec 20 2014

Connected Learning: My Own Remix

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This, here, is a picture of my daughter, Maya, at a swim meet earlier this year. The truth is, she wouldnot have been at this meet if not for some caring adults in her life, one of whom we lost last weekinherbattle with ovarian cancer.

As a little girl, I had my daughter swim on a local swim team. She made it four years until, at the age of nine, she got burned out. All the cool girls at school were playing soccer and she wanted to try. So we put her on a rec league which disbanded the next year to go competitive, and she had not choice if she wanted to continue playing the game, to follow suit. All went well until her third year playing.

Without going into too much gory detail, her coach this third year was a bully. There is no other way to put it. Our happy silly daughter came home almost every night crying, she never played in games, and it was clear her coach did not treat her well. We pulled Maya out at the winter interim of the season.

She was ready to quit sports altogether. She was convinced that all coaches were this way, bullies who simply yelled and terrified their subjects. She was gunshy, and I couldn't blame her. But I also knew that if she didn't do something, she is the type of kiddo who would live inside her head all day if I let her. She's an avid reader, and would prefer to quietly sit in her room doing this over anything else. If I let her, she would come home from school and this is all she would do.

We put her in a group at our gym called "Swim Conditioning" which is a group of kids ages nine through 17 who get together two nights a week and swim together. We wanted something for Maya that was not competitive, but that would help her stay in shape and healthy. What she got was so much more.

In many ways I feel that Robin and Katey, the two ladies who teach this class, brought our daughter back from the brink of putting sports to the wayside for the rest of her life. They brough back the fun of sport. They helped her see the power that lives within her. They helped her see how much more she was capable of than she believed.

The loss of Robin last week was heartbreaking for sure. But it has helped me reflect on the power of connected learning, and it has helped me expand my own definition.

The whole point of connection is to touch one another in ways we might not otherwise be touched. It helps us think in new and different ways. It helps us step outside of our comfort zone. It sometimes challenges us to do things we never dreamed.

The connection Maya had with Robin inspired her to take risks again, and I feel this is what connected learning ultimately does. It inspires us to take risks and do things we never dreamed possible.

Because of Robin, my daughter now swims with a team. She currently has a kind coach who knows when to lean in and when to slow down and lay off.

Without connection, Maya would have given up and not known her potential. WIth our connections we form to one another we push each other's boundaries to move beyond what we thought was possible on our own.

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