I am an enthusiastic believer of lifelong learning, and not just learning in my profession but in all aspects of life. Although I have no scientific proof to back this up I think the more you have an interest in the world and the more active you keep your brain, and the better your overall health and well being will be. I think the moment we loose interest with our world we just fade away, or at least I feel I would. I crave knowledge, I love learning facts and having an understanding of all sorts of things. I fancy myself to be a bit of a renaissance woman and honestly if I had unlimited amounts of money I would probably spend my remaining days in some variety of educational pursuits. Simply taking courses which strike my fancy and gaining knowledge where ever I can. In recent years I have pushed myself to be more open to learning things that challenge core values and assumptions that I have. I have also begun to be more open to learning how to do something that I was wary of trying previously. One of the biggest risks I have taken was to pursue this career in education. Coming from a trade where I basically was twisting wrenches all day long and moving into a world of academia was terrifying and exciting. I remember asking my husband his advice if I should make this jump or not. He looked at me with this perplexed look on his face and simply said YES, of course you should! I immediately protested that how could I do this, I didn’t know anything about being a teacher! He simply responded with “you will do great, you are the smartest person I know. You are too smart to just twist wrenches you need to do something greater.” I did not believe him, but I couldn’t let him down so I gave it my all and I seem to be muddling my way through well enough. Once I entered this new world, learning became even more important to me. I realized a passion I didn’t know I had, I realized that I am fascinated by the human brain. How we think, why we do what we do, why do people act the way they do and how can you make this machine of human interaction run better? The more I learn about education the more I want to learn. Had you asked me 5 years ago if I would someday pursue a Masters Degree I would have said no way, now that is in my five year plan. Through all the research I have done and observations I have made I can see that professional lifelong learning is very important. As years pass and we become more comfortable in the classroom we risk spiraling into predictability and boredom. We become actors in an all too familiar play, where we tell the same stories and jokes and do the same lectures to a point where we could recite them in our sleep. As Brookfield adeptly puts “In such circumstances we risk going on autopilot. A certain emotional flatness sets in, followed by a disinterest in the dynamics of our practice” (Brookfield). If we do not challenge ourselves to learn how can we challenge our students? Brookfield also speaks often in his book to modeling the behavior we want to see in our students. We want our students to be engaged in what they are leaning, so by that respect should we not be engaged in learning as well. Knowledge is power and we are educators are here to empower people. The powerless cannot empower so if we do not have an insatiable need for knowledge, we will loose our power and the ability to bestow that power to others. Learning keeps us from becoming stale and if we do not wish to buy stale food why would we buy a stale education.
Brookfield, S. (2015) The Skillful Teacher: On Techniques, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass