Tag Archives: Teacher Development

Transforming Passion into Profession

If you have read any of my blog postings before, I mention how pursuing one’s passions are mostly a good thing. Although passions endure with a healthy dose of sacrifice in pursuit of their ultimate end.

One of my passions has been writing to you about how I think lifelong learning and continuing education is not just a luxury but an essential component to growth regardless of age or year in school.

But I realize that my passion is limited and must continue to grow as well. It must change from just being convenient expressions into a disciplined position coupled with dedication. In other words, my passions must be taken seriously. They must transform into an enduring profession.

What do I mean? Take for example a professional singer. What is the difference between a professional singer and one who sings occasionally at parties and get-togethers? Both are likely to receive applause from their audiences, but an obvious difference would be that the professional receives money, while the occasional singer may not. But this kind of answer is too simple and short-sighted. Since both singers are passionate about singing, it would be very likely that in most cases both would sing for free.

What I think the larger difference is that the professional singer will sing even when she doesn’t feel like it. She’ll sing when she has a sore throat, haven’t slept, or experience life changes, such as death of a love one or fight with a close friend. The occasional singer would find these changes as legitimate reasons for not entertaining this time; the professional singer continues on.

This must be the same case concerning my passions for lifelong learning and education. Whatever form I may use to express them, either writing books, articles, or still blog postings; conducting speeches, workshops, or sessions, all must be carried out with an unwavering focus. Because I realize something else about the professional singer: She sings as a treat for us, but therapy for herself. Singing can make all that befalls her seem bearable, can make her gray day become a yellow one, and her saddened heart a source of energy underneath her songs.

Perhaps the real reason why I give the analogy of learning to singing, is because I can’t sing though I wish I could. Yet more important, the analogy provides me a score to keep writing, keep learning and of course, continue on.


Emotions of Education: A Passion for Reform

Many agree that emotions can rule over all reason and sense. Emotions can also encourage and drive us to achieve enormous feats. They are a power with a wide range of potential. 

Now what if emotions were targeted toward education? I mean, what would be the emotional range that we could learn from?

I can think of three in particular: Pain, Pleasure, and Passion.  These emotions when geared toward education can reveal some surprising insights. For instance: What is it about education that brings us pain? Some are failing grades, tuition, student loans, finding the right schools, filling out entrance applications for our children or ourselves, and so on.   

What about the  pleasures of education? Some can identify with receiving great grades, degrees, diplomas, even ‘aha moments’ from learning something new or seeing someone grow in understanding and perspective.

Lastly,  there is the emotion of passion in education.  This is arguably the most misunderstood.  On one hand, we think about passion as a desire, pursuit, personal calling, or profound interest in an area or discipline.  Along these lines, experiencing passion in education would be a welcomed thing that helps define our purposes and pursuits.

On the other hand, passion relates to endurance. In fact, a Latin version of passion ties to patience and ‘suffering.’  Remember the ole saying: ‘Patience is a Virtue’? Well in this case, patience is having the passion to endure, suffer, and even overcome the circumstances.

Which leads me to a final insight for those who claim to have a passion for education: teachers, school boards, politicians, governments, and learning institutions such as schools, colleges, and universities. 

Can all of them match their desire to pursue education with the suffering and endurance that is necessary  to change it for everyone, especially for those who do not know educational reform and improvement must take place.   

My worry is that many are distracting us with superficial solutions for educational pains, promoting unearned pleasures, while ignoring the most important and emotional impact of advancing a full passion toward a lasting and lifelong education.

How Adult Learning Can Change K-12 Education

Adult Learning & Continuing Education is an emerging field that still has a long way to go in defining its discipline and securing its place in society. Yet there are significant points and challenges that must be understood. 

A common challenge has been distinguishing itself from traditional elementary and secondary schooling, always known as kindergarten through highschool (K-12).

An important point is that although college education is included in the field, Adult Learning & Continuing Education focuses more on post-college instruction, continuing-professional education, and learning for multiple situations.

Overall, the distinctive quality of the field is both common and unique. Common like any other academic discipline such as law, medicine, and even K-12 education. But unique in looking from two perspectives: the perspective of expert and of experience.

For example, those who study law, do not often learn how to be a client; medical doctors study medicine, but not enough time concentrates on learning how to be a patient.  K-12 educators learn how to teach programs, but not always about what it means to be a student.  Perhaps that’s why many believe that lawyers are the worst clients, doctors are terrible patients, and it’s harder to teach a teacher.

But Adult Learning & Continuing Education is a discipline that must learn its practice through sharing its problems, using their experiences as a resource for answers.  In this way, these adults become experts in discovering what kinds of learning works immediately and for what purpose, since results are coming from personal experiences.

So why is this important? Because this field has something to offer, especially to our children.  It gives a second chance to reexamine how we learned as kids: To discover what worked; what didn’t; when we learned best; what kind of study habits were productive; or even whether we had study habits at all. 

If society could see more of this value, then this field could be the research & development for education. K-12, for example, could benefit from findings that transform classes, programs and instruction, constructing more productive approaches for future education. 

In this effort, the fundamentals of education would be explored where current K-12 teachers would be able to advance their lesson plans into subjects and technologies, where we as kids never learned or experienced.

In the ‘Classroom of Experience’

They say that Experience is the best teacher: It gives you the test first, and then, teaches the lessons. Perhaps this was true, but now there’s more at stake.  With rising costs of education, not only does Experience require no paycheck, but in return could offer all the wealth you ever need. Quite a bargain considering we have experiences all the time. 

Just curious though: If you had to show what your ‘experience as teacher’ looks like, what would you come up with?

To the point: The classroom of experience requires no tuition, student fees or loans.  Yet there’s a way to include your ‘lessons learned’ from experience directly into the progress of your education, enrollment, and degree pursuit.

There’s a way to transfer your experiences from work and life into college credit.  It is called PLAs or Prior Learning Assessments where there are things you may have learned outside of the college classroom that will count toward getting an actual degree.

Many colleges and universities for decades have adopted some form of PLAs and improvements in evaluations and crediting continue today.  This topic is fascinating and I’m eager to learn more.  As I do, I will share with you my “experience.”

Wake Up! It’s Time for School: Yeah You Too

BigStockPhoto_DmitriyMelnikovBack-to-school sales, crates and boxes, papers, pens, and ‘Post-Its’ are here again, falling on us like autumn leaves soon to follow.

Yet this time it’s different: The students are not just the toddler skipping to kindergarten; the teenager roving through highschool halls, or even the college freshmen with backpack, foot-locker, and laundry bin. The students today are the actual parents of these youths and young adults. They have jobs (or at least looking for one) with bills, mortgages, car-notes and responsibilities more than turning in homework.

Recent stats suggest the average college student is getting older, over 25, looking for an education. With many adults having to change jobs or keep-up with their career, going back-to-school is now a shared experience across generations.  Thus, three (3) critical roles about this trend we must reconsider: 

1) Changing the role of education:  No longer should education be reduced to schooling with abstract facts and irrelevant concepts.  Education is a part of life and living. So the content should change along with our mindset. We must view education not as an end, but a ‘continual beginning.’

2) Changing the role of ‘teacher’: Throughout the history of education, the teacher was the main character.  The teacher was all-wise, all-knowing, keeper of ruler, chalk, and grade report.  Today , the role of teacher must act as partner.  A partnership where all parties have some knowledge, experience, and most importantly, details making learning a living story; an enlightened and educative soap opera at best.

3) Changing the role of society:  When we see the news on education, they usually refer to elementary and secondary schooling.  Rarely is their discussion about the adult learning community.  I mean, learning beyond basic literacy, english as a second language, or the how-to, self-help presentation.  Our society must include the 45-year-old mother of two enrolled as a first-year college student.  Or a returning military veteran, taking advantage of the G.I. Bill headed for a new direction. And lastly, the unable-to-retire workers, who make very little and see the only way to make more is to pay the costs of classes: at night, on-line, or at their community college.

The alarm bell is ringing, and some of us have pressed the snooze far too many:  We must get-UP!