‘Learning to Learn’ Reflective Journal- Quote #2

Reflection

Hailey D. Barry

Vancouver Community College

Professor: Karen Brooke

November 2015

‘an educated person is one who has learned how to learn… how to adapt and change.’

Objective- What have you learned from reflecting on this particular quote? What has caught your attention?

Something that seems to be a constant thought in my mind as I continue my own lifelong journey through education is the realization that learning to learn is really a choice. There are many factors that will affect that choice and those factors and considerations will be different and ever changing. When we put ourselves in a position to be open and willing to ‘learn to learn’ we are making ourselves vulnerable in a sense, as we expand our knowledge and skills by getting outside of our comfort zone. The drive and determination to learn new things may be founded on work or career, being accepted into a different society, or for a deeper desire to master something we are passionate about. In any circumstance, to move forward and accept the challenge of education and learning, one must make the conscious choice to do so.

I chose this quote to use as a motto for myself in the future. To remember during those moments that I am struggling with comprehension and understanding, or feel that grasping something new is too much of a challenge. I want to remember that the learning process is part of the learning experience and that I need to make myself vulnerable to change.

Reflective- What did you realize about teaching as a result of this quote?

Instructors, teachers and professors are all considered to be educated people. They are the facilitator of the educational platform because they have experience, knowledge or expertise in that specific topic. Although they are the one delivering the information, the quote suggest that an ‘educated person’ (teachers, instructors and professors as well) need to learn to learn, and adapt and change. Students do not only learn from the instructor, the instructor also needs to be open and willing to learn from the students and be a part of the educational journey that the students are taking as well. The personal experiences that propelled that instructor into the position of educating others on a specific topic were part of their own educational journey. But by choosing to share that knowledge with others they must always be on top of the ongoing changes in their area of expertise and any trends in education. They must also be willing to adapt and change.

I think most people can recall a particularly great teacher they have had in their life, as well as one that perhaps wasn’t as influential. Now that I am an adult educator, I feel it is important to really think about those types of experiences from the past and the lasting impression those teachers made on me. How can I do things differently? What can I take with me that was positive and that I would want to share with others? I believe that the instructors who were open to listen, adapt delivery of information, and change things up in the classroom were the ones I enjoyed the most. Humans in general are reluctant to change, and I know that I am a creature of habit. However, when someone is choosing to learn, they are already in what could be considered an ‘uncomfortable’ situation. Because the brain and body are already in a mode of adaptation, there would naturally be more acceptance to try new things and do things differently on a more regular basis. Instructors who take this adaptable nature and use it as advantage to unlock their students’ potential during their instruction are showing that they too, are willing to adapt and change.

Interpretive- What was your ‘Aha!’ moment when you read this quote? In what way(s) did this quote change our mind about being an adult educator? What was one key insight that you now have as a result of this quote?

This quote reminded me of another by Charles Darwin:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

Darwin is referring to something much larger than a classroom setting, however the statement still applies. As I mentioned earlier, learning is a choice and that choice is ultimately made by the individual. The individual can be influenced in the classroom, but they are also influenced by their past experiences and current situation in life. No matter what an instructor does to motivate and assist a student, the choice to learn by adapting their life and mind-frame in the end, is on the individual. What they choose to take away from their learning journey, how much information they want to absorb, and how hard they want to work outside the classroom to enforce the information they are receiving, is all up to them. This was an ‘Aha!’ moment for me because the focus of the quote here is on the individual. This is not about a family, a team of colleagues or a workforce all adapting and learning together. It is about the solitary person making decisions about their own path to success.

I experienced a bit of relief after reflecting on this quote and fully accepting the fact that no matter what you do to facilitate learning, sometimes a student chooses not to learn. The saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink. An instructor can provide all the information and a wonderful learning environment, but if a student is not willing to challenge themselves and adapt so that they are able to receive the information, there isn’t always a tool available to convince them otherwise.

Decisional- How has this quote and the insight that you gained from reflecting on it influenced your idea of teaching or how you will teach in the future?

This quote gave me a lot of insight as to how to become a better learner, but I had to think really long and hard about what it meant to me as an instructor. After a lot of thought I have come to an epiphany.

I often use the word facilitator to describe myself in place of instructor. Usually, I am teaching my fellow workforce, or others in my age group. I have learned that calling myself a facilitator takes the edge off the negative self-talk I deal myself when I feel like an imposter as an ‘instructor’. As someone with no formal training (until now) about educating adults or how to be an instructor, I feel much more comfortable labelling myself as a facilitator. It has crossed my mind that one day, I will want to change my title. But how will I know when the time is right?

This quote made me realize there is nothing wrong at all with being a facilitator and I may be just as happy referring to myself as a facilitator for the rest of my life.

As leaders in a classroom setting, our jobs are to make sure that the information students have come to receive gets processed and remembered. There are many different ways to do this but ultimately, information will not be transferred unless the student is open and willing to accept the information.

In the settings that I facilitate, there are usually more students present because they have to be, not necessarily because they want to be. This comes along with a list of unique challenges but I have learned that you will not get anywhere unless you allow yourself to be adaptable. More important though, is to facilitate and encourage the students’ adaptability. As previously mentioned, I believe there is a level of vulnerability that comes along with putting ourselves in a position to learn and receive information. If a student is so focused on being afraid about looking ‘stupid’, stressing about the perceived workload, or feeling like an imposter themselves, they may not have the tools to move forward in order to actually start learning the subject!

I have made the decision that the next time I instruct, I am going to have an interactive conversation with the students right away about being adaptable. I will explain to them that I am there to help them through the learning process and I will make the promise to them that I will maintain my ability to adapt throughout this educational journey that I am guiding them on. I want to facilitate a verbal brainstorm about what it means to them to learn what they have come there to learn, and their expectations once they complete the course. I want to encourage and share a few key points that I have come across while reading and learning about being adaptable as a student. The following is a list of things I will incorporate into my classroom.

Be flexible. If the way you are doing something isn’t working for you (regardless of how many times it worked in the past) change things up. I am here to help!

Be optimistic. Life throws us curveballs and sometimes, when things seem unfair or like they will derail us, they actually can contribute in a positive way to our learning experience.  It is all about perspective.

Focus on the facts. What do you know to be true? The times that you feel you are falling behind or not getting it, remind yourself about the things about the material you know for sure, and how far you have come.

Do self-work and ask for help. If you are feeling frustrated remind yourself about two major accomplishments in your life. Academic or otherwise. Write them down and list the skills that were required of you in order to accomplish those things you are proud of. Now, if you are still feeling like you are lacking something to get you through to the next assignment or topic, ask for help. Whether it be another student or myself.

References

Garvey Berger, J., & Johnston, K. (2015, March 9). 4 Steps to Becoming More Adaptable to Change. Retrieved November 8, 2015.

http://www.fastcompany.com/3043294/work-smart/4-steps-to-becoming-more-adaptable-to-change

Runyon, J. (2010, October 13). The Most Valuable Trait You Can Ever Have. Retrieved November 7, 2015.

http://impossiblehq.com/the-most-valuable-trait-you-can-ever-have/

Bobinski, D. (2010, April 29). Three tips for being flexible and adaptable. Retrieved November 5, 2015.

http://www.management-issues.com/opinion/5931/three-tips-for-being-flexible-and-adaptable/

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