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11 March 2014 @ 07:30 pm
ready, willing, & able  
Do not ask what possessed me, but this phrase popped into my head recently. I am familiar with the phrase, of course. And, given my deliberations about how we learn, I wonder if perhaps we have the cart before the horse here.

Does "able" come first? Do I have to have some sense of confidence (security) before I undertake a task? My new car came with a system that allows me to use hands-free through the car itself when I talk to folks on the #fancyphone. As much as I am at ease with my phone and the programming it takes to set it up and make it user friendly, I did not know how to do that programming for the car. So, one morning last week, as I waited for the ice to melt from the windows and windshield, I picked up the Technology Guide for the car (and is that not a kick, that I have a separate guide for the tech components of my car?) and read and followed the step-by-step instructions for setting up speed dial numbers. And Sunday I had to refer once again to see how to reset the time for "spring forward." I can now replicate these actions. I am ABLE to do this now. And maybe that means I am more READY and definitely more WILLING?

Is "ready" really something that belongs in the middle? What does it mean to be READY? I think it means that I have the skills and perhaps now it is time to try them out. I recall taking a motorcycle safety course some time ago. The BH and I decided to begin riding (this was in between having residents of the back bedroom). We spent the first night of the course watching the mandatory blood-on-the-highway movie. Then, we climbed onto imaginary bikes and practiced using throttle and brakes. The next morning, the imaginary bikes were real. We knew the basic controls; now it was time to practice them. Tentatively at first, I gradually became more willing to pick up some speed and take a few more risks. By the end of the day, I had mastered stopping short without catapulting myself over the handlebars, jumping over obstacles, and even picking up a bike that had fallen over. For the years I did ride, I put all of this knowledge and practice to good use. I passed my licensing exam with a 98 (two points deducted for taking a turn too slowly even though I agreed that the officer who rode behind me in a car, did not see the patch of gravel). I was ready. But where does WILLING fit in?

Is perhaps "willing" the final necessary component? My friend, colleague, and co-conspirator, Donalyn Miller is reading Daniel Fader (you remember him, right? If not, please read HOOKED ON BOOKS TO SEE HIS VISIONARY INSIGHT). One thing Fader observes is that literacy must be functional and willing (and is that not able, ready, and willing?). If literacy is not WILLING then it is to no avail. As Mark Twain noted, “A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read.” I have talked about the PLN potential of Twitter for years. Unless others are WILLING to use instruction on how to build a PLN via social networks, though, that understanding or knowledge is going nowhere. Teachers who do not read (and, sadly, they do exist) are not WILLING to participate in that part of literacy. If they do not write, they are not WILLING to participate. I wonder if some of them need the READY and ABLE pieces first? Are they unsure of their reading and writing? Do they need more confidence or assurance? Or perhaps more practice?

Occasionally, I speak to groups of educators who are not readers. I can tell as I book talk and ask questions that I am in front of folks who do not practice what they seem to preach. I worry that if teachers and librarians and administrators are not READY, WILLING, and ABLE it will be even more difficult for us to persuade students to become readers and writers. Speaking under these circumstances is draining. Thankfully, it does not happen often. What does happen with regularity is that my friends will gather on a weekend evening and text book recommendations, ideas for articles, and links to interesting pieces in a free-for-all that can extend into the following day. THAT, my friends, is the definition of READY, WILLING, and ABLE.
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