It’s always so interesting learning with other educators. I often think about what my fellow learners would be like leading a classroom, as I’m reminded of how different I am as a learner vs. as a teacher.

I know I’m a great teacher. My growth trajectory has been to become more learner-centred over the years, more creative and experimental, and to leave more room for my students to build resilience – mainly by no longer trying to protect/save them from the lows in a learning experience. I try to share my appreciation for the messiness of learning, and validate their feelings: yeah, it’s frustrating sometimes, isn’t it? But isn’t it great, that we still have so much more to learn?

As a learner… I can be playful, appreciative and a positive group influence. I love learning, it’s absolutely crucial for my well-being. I am deeply inspired by good learning experiences. However, if the learning experience isn’t going so well, I have potential to be critical, rebellious, and impatient.

What makes the difference? I’m pretty good at making things my own, so even if the course is uninteresting or the assignments are dull, usually I can make it work. I think the big thing for me is autonomy and authenticity. If this is a situation where I should be able to stretch as an autonomous, authentic human being, and I feel controlled, suppressed, or condescended to, I lose all patience. Maybe that’s an understatement. I feel enraged. Of course, I can compartmentalize this. I’m a professional. But holy cow this bugs me!

I’m thinking of past students who were difficult in the classroom, and who are now excellent in the field. In a well-designed vocational setting, shouldn’t course performance be a decent indicator of career success? For some people, it is. What’s up with us complicated folk who stir up all the shit and then set a good example? Is it idealism? Is it a sense of responsibility to those who are leaning on us? Is it trauma?

New learning journeys