The Story of Julius Yego
It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment.
What does it mean to be a self-directed learner? What are the key factors involved in helping young people become more self-directed on their learning journeys? How do teachers need to set up their learning environment in a way that maximizes opportunities for students to become more engaged in their own learning? How can we better empower young learners to feel that they have what it takes to become their own teachers?
I believe that the most powerful types of learning occur when there is a strong sense of buy-in, but added to this mix must also be a deep level of emotional engagement and commitment embedded within this process. When the formula is made just right, amazing things can be achieved. At the heart of the learning process though must be a willingness by teachers to construct environments that give young people every opportunity possible to succeed in ways that best suit the talents and skills that they want to develop (under their own terms and conditions).
Without question direct instruction plays a pivotal role in helping students acheive success in school, but is there more that we can do to create the conditions necessary for deepening that sense of buy-in and emotional engagement? How is it that we can better design emotional hooks that inspire and motivate young people to take charge of their own learning?
I love to share stories with teachers and students that exemplify self-directed journeys of personal excellence and resilience. The story of Julius Yego is a powerful example of a self-directed learner who has truly achieved greatness. Julius is a world champion javelin thrower who is presently competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics and is predicted to win a gold medal in his event. Amazingly, Julius taught himself to throw javelin from an early age in his poor rural farm village in Kenya.
His interest in the sport continued to grow despite not having a coach. However, he was able to learn more about the art of throwing javelin by watching YouTube videos then implement these lessons into his daily practice. One thing led to another and he eventually became the first world champion from Africa and is now competing on the world stage in Rio. Examples such as this serve to demonstrate to students the strength of the human spirit and the beauty of the learning process.
Some would say that a provocation such as this is directed toward learning in physical education itself, however, I would argue that great provocations transcend subject area boundary lines. The Julius Yego story has all of the elements and phases of an amazing learning journey that is rooted in passion, trial and error, research, prototyping, reflection, and self-improvement etc. A great provocation to emphasize resilience and personal excellence.
What can students learn from watching this short video? How can Julius' learning journey be unpacked and examined by students in an effort to show the many different roads and styles there are to learning. This video is not about creating world champions but more importantly inspiring young people to understand the possibilities that exist. Happy teaching!
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KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.