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Learning Is An Experience

blended learning comfort zone emc designer emc foundation floral design floral education growth mindset tomas de bruyne Apr 06, 2021

European Master Certification is an educational program, and, as accustomed, at the end of it, on graduation day, each student gets a diploma. There is an exam, that takes place at the end of the Advanced Class and of course, grading the performance of the students is require. Besides being a wonderful event, held at the 14th century beautiful building of the Town Hall in Bruge, besides the great Belgian beer they serve and all the fun that one can feel in the air, the graduation of EMC is not a destination in itself. 

At EMC we put the value more on the journey our students make, on the learning process, which never really ends on graduation day.

We constantly prepare ourselves to perform better, which is our goal, in the end: to make the best of what we do. Our clients focus on how good we are in our performances and that’s why we have to bring added value to what we deliver. The financial compensation of clients, though, should never be the only one you get out of a job. There's a greater payment, that lies in the things we learn in the process. 

In the words of Nelson Mandela, "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world", right? The quality of the education, though, deeply influences the direction of that change. There are two perspectives that motivated people to learn: the need, the stress, the necessity - THE PAIN FACTOR - or the GAIN FACTOR which means: will, fun, desire for more. 

How to become a better version of yourself?

The focus and activities you take on should always be on the HOW? and WHAT? to learn. Performance itself is not a goal to pursue, but rather your concentration should be directed towards the process of learning. The amount and quality of practice are key factors in the level of expertise people achieve, therefore quality should always be a desiderate for any educational program, and this is what we look for in EMC, as well. We deliver the highest quality in all aspects that impact our student's' experience: curriculum, designs, teachers and coaches, feedback, challenges and communication. But we always want more for our students, we want them to become designers with ICE Effect and activate their creative potential. 

It has been proven, that if you stay too long in the performance zone, where immediate results such as grades are given, our performance plateaus. That’s why it is needed to engage students in the growing process, to challenge them and give them the knowledge and the tools to see challenges from a growth mindset. Creative is not what you are but, what you do. Creativity is a muscle in action and you constantly have to exercise it.

The theory gives you both the foundation to grow on and the ability to do a better performance in the future. As we are preparing the students for a lifetime experience, encouraging them to become Conscious Creatives, we start the Foundation class with focus on teaching the theory, as well as building a specific mindset. We are looking into every aspect of the Elements and Principles of Design and at the same time, we open new horizons into how floral design can be approached from a different perspective, that where designers discover their infinite creative potential. Assignments are handed out, but no grades are given. The students, during this blended learning experience are guided, through feedback and constructive criticism, by the EMC team of teachers.

There is a connection based on trust that appears, where students are constantly encouraged and even pushed to take a step out of their comfort zone.

Comfort and Routine are the biggest enemies of creativity because we stay to much in our performance zone without challenging ourselves towards growth and learn. Be open for new ideas, the unknown brings you automatically out of the comfort zone, and that's where things truly start to happen. When we are rusted in our daily performance mode, we are not really growing, nor challenging ourselves and in the longer term, we devalue our performance.

Getting feedback and adjustments from skilled teachers and later, during Practicum, from personal mentors, is vital as their approach comes from the experience of going through this EMC learning process themselves. Be totally open and dare to step out of your comfort zone.

The right actions lead to improvement.

Repeatedly getting good grades will lead to a good and even better performance, as classic educational systems have proven over time, but this will not lead to a higher learning curve. The performance zone it optimized by the performance itself, while the learning zone is optimized by growth and collecting knowledge and knowing how to implement it. Comparing theory and practice, or learning and performance zone, can be seen as black and white. But the bridge between the learning and the performance zone are the knowledge and the knowing, the latter meaning implementing the theory into the practice. It is important yourself time to transit, to digest the theory and make it you own.

Dr. Anders Ericsson calls it the ‘deliberately practice’. It involves consciously breaking down all the component skills, focusing on parts of growth, going step by step into the learning process to achieve a steady and healthy progress. 

The most successful people are always in the learning zone, improving themselves all the time. Each person can develop a personal method as to stay in the learning zone, and habits include reading books, taking online courses, experimenting, etc. Those people all have in common the perception that there is always room for improvement and constantly try to answer a common question: How can I become better?

The goal of an any educational journey is to improve, to become a better version of yourself. What better way to do that than focusing yourself on mastering things you did not know before? After all, it is the main reason people decide to take a course in the first place:  to learn something new. 

Curiosity is a natural state of mind for humans that all children posses in high amounts. In time, as adults we tend to lose that constantly inquiring need for knowledge. What can we can do, as adults, is to constantly explore new options and possibilities, for when humans explore, it triggers curiosity and this is essential in the learning process. Raising questions, discovering novelty and diving out of the comfort zone cannot be done without curiosity.

Trying out new things inevitably involves making mistakes. 

In the performance zone it is all about performing at your best. Seeing the best results and outcome. There is no space for errors or failure, while if the process occurs in the learning zone, mistakes have a positive impact, they are seen as natural opportunities to improve. At EMC we always encourage our students to practice active curiosity, to explore new options. We often notice people are trapped in a place where they feel safe. Knowing how to execute some techniques or having the skills to work in a certain style gives them a comfortable feeling and at first they tend engage in a good performance only. They focus on showcasing a good design, rather than explore an unknown mechanic or try out a technique in a new way and risk having a sloppy design at the end of the class. EMC Foundation Class and Pacticum focuses exactly on that, on taking students out of their comfort zone, challenging them to approach work from a different stand point and focus on the learning process, seeing the lessons, rather than the mistakes. 

We need both zones in our lives and grades can be motivational on a short term, but on a long run, the focus, the expectations and your goals should be set from a learning zone. This is where creativity is enhanced and expanded to infinite possibilities. Focus yourself on the creative process of making a design instead of the design outcome at first. The step-by-step on WHY and WHAT and HOW you make your design gives you the insight in the learning process. 

Give yourself the time to grow! 

Today’s educational system is too much orientated on the performance zone as it is all about scoring the highest numbers, no place for failures. Give yourself the time to grow! Grass is not growing by pulling it form the top, but by adding water in the ground. 

We all know the expression “Working hard brings you a successful future”. Working smart, though, by educating yourself to become better is just as important. Reflect and practice in the learning zone what you applied in your performance zone it's what truly makes you grow.

Let's focus on the growth process when studying.

Let's allow ourselves to fail and learn from those mistakes.

Let's look for our uncomfortable zones to challenge ourselves by experimenting.  

Let's invest in exploring our potential reflecting our ideas.

With this attitude we setup our EMC educational platform. The EMC mission states YOUR KNOWLEDGE – YOUR SUCCESS – OUR PASSION. We put passion into designing a complex curriculum, an outstanding learning process, and amazing guidance through it, but ultimately, EMC is all about YOU. EMC is your immense effort, you having to step out of your comfort zone, you reaching your infinite potential as a floral designer, your signature style, your growth, your hard work, your creativity pushed forward, your designs lifted, your success story, and your own personal experience enhanced.

edited by Diana Toma, EMC



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