How do you get from A to B? This question is fundamentally what much of education revolves around. Some tasks are larger or more complex than others, which can’t always be fully grasped at once.

Let me take you back to Bonaire, where I tackled a complex task. I share this story because it parallels the process you undergo when learning to work with a puppet.

Imagine a baitball (or whatever you call such a massive gathering of fish). I didn’t look up whether I got the term right. Intentionally so, because striving for perfection has proven to be a major stumbling block.

I remember thinking when I first saw this baitball: “Where does it start, and where does it end?” It was huge, consisting, in my mind, of millions of fish that formed a single entity. They moved collectively in response to threats like a barracuda or a snorkeler, creating stunning visuals, but also the overwhelming feeling, as if you were tasked with counting them, which would surely dishearten you.

My complex task was akin to this baitball, and perhaps starting with a puppet feels the same to you.

My baitball was launching an online business in a language I wasn’t fluent in, in a market I was unfamiliar with, with hardly any followers on social media, and a service that was hard to sell even in my native language, along with a desire to make different choices. This seems as daunting as counting the number of fish in a baitball.

So, where do you begin, counting the baitball fishes?

I decided that I stood the best chance of success by seeking someone who knew how to do it and by taking language lessons. Those were my first steps.

In the process that followed, we tend to focus on the end result, the B in getting from A to B. We look for examples that have already reached B, hoping for a quick fix, a magic wand to instantly get us there.

But there is no such thing. The distance between A and B is the process you must go through, which I had to navigate to get where I am now. The desire to reach B and the firm belief in the need for what I have to say drove me through this process.

Letting Go of Perfection

What I learned to let go of during the process was the need to do everything perfectly and to compare myself with others who were much further along. It was extremely uncomfortable making my first video in English. It was choppy, the pronunciation was poor, and you could see the panic in my eyes.

I faced myself quite a bit and wanted to throw in the towel countless times. It felt too big for me, who was I to think I could do this.

But giving up was never really an option, because then another voice would chime in: “Come on, Helen, you’ve already invested so much energy, you’ve come so far, you’re not giving up now, what happened to your desire to make a difference with your perspective on connecting with children?”

Learning from Others

What I also learned is that there are many ways to reach Rome, and just because someone else’s path worked for them, doesn’t mean it’s automatically mine. However, what I could learn from them helped me find my own way. The path I eventually chose is the result of learning from many others over the years, deciding what did and didn’t suit me, determining who I actually work for, and what difference I can make for them.

The people who seek me out share a few things: they own a puppet, they bought it with the idea of getting children to talk more, making lessons more accessible, and using the puppet to work on behavior and/or language. They want to make a difference in a child’s life, believe in the value of the puppet, know where they want to go, their B, have tried some things but stumble over practical implementations and the discomfort the puppet brings.

Thinking in Achievable Steps

But the desire to reach B is greater, and instead of giving up or continuing to stumble, they seek my help to channel the learning process and break it down into manageable steps.

I don’t offer a quick fix either, because that would undermine the value of the process. Learning, getting from A to B, isn’t just about the outcome but also about the journey. The lessons you learn about yourself, others, and life along the way are just as valuable as achieving what you aimed for.

Processes like this are growth processes; they enrich you, elevate you to a different level, alter your thinking, change your perspective, and help you see solutions you couldn’t see before.

It Starts with Deciding to Reach B

All you need to do is start, decide that you want to reach B, and accept that you will embark on a path where you might stumble occasionally. But how bad is that compared to the regret that might overwhelm you if you don’t try or quit before you really get started?

If you see what a puppet can mean in your work with children, if you feel it is your tool to open children up but are searching for the way to get there, then I am your go-to person. I am the one who helps you count the fish in that baitball. It won’t be a years-long journey because solutions often turn out to be much simpler than they seem at first glance.

Author

Helen Meurs (helenmeurs.com) is a pioneer in the field of Puppet Power, an independent trainer and developer. She offers online courses, is the lead instructor at the vocational training for puppet coaches, and authored the book ‘The Hand Puppet as a Educational Tool’. Subscribe to her newsletter if you want to know more.

Lower The Barriers Through The Use of A Puppet

Discover what this approach can bring you