There has never been a better time in history to be an “adult learner”. The means of acquiring information are vast and education is waiting at your fingertips. We are a mobile learning society and if you want to learn anything, you are one click away from that knowledge. It is exciting to see so many adults returning to a learner mindset and developing their own philosophy for how and why they are learning.
BLOG Discussion with RAMI
An eye-opening experience was had when Ramin and I were attempting to carve out time to chat about our blogs. It became quickly apparent that we had opposing schedules and it was difficult. When we did finally connect, I rapidly found an ease of conversation surrounding the learning that is taking place in both of us. We opened the conversation with the traditional exchange of greeting and introduction and then dove right into the crux of the call. What are we learning and for what purpose? Learning from Ramin, I found him to be engaging with encouragement to move forward with technology and change to assimilate it into your classroom/learning environments. He had very organically transitioned to a “blended format” as he assessed the needs of his classroom and how best to facilitate learning.
As an instructor of programming and digital design, I was struck by the humility in his words that he is always learning new things from his students. The subject matter of his facilitating is such that it requires each student to bring their own imagination and designs; therefore there is much to learn from one another. What a wonderful learning environment when there is a natural inclination to collaborative learning and to learn from others. This teaching style resonates with me. We spoke about classroom design and the delivery of materials. It would be my preference to be situated in a circle where we were in a natural flow of connection and conversation. In Ramin’s classroom, he has his students in a U formation, which provides the same dynamic. This would support eye contact, communication and flow while still having the option of solo learning on the computer. This was optimum for the course of study of digital design.
Thankful for our conversation, we were in agreement of the move towards global education. While I am well versed in this trend of global learning in the home education field, it was interesting to learn that institutions are moving towards this category as well. This would make it manageable for the learner and the instructor to utilize technology to accommodate travel and access to online resources. Ramin spoke to the importance of being adaptable to that culture and then we discussed the downfalls of technology-based learning. While there are many wonderful things, there is the aspect of face-to-face interaction. This is a real loss and it would be optimum if there were a mixture of online and face-to-face in the learning processes. Another thing we agreed upon was that education and learning are not static and are always on the move. It is up to us whether we are traveling companions.
Trends In My Field
For the past 25 years, I have been immersed in the field of education. My students were my primary focal point and it was a daily mandate to construct curriculum and plans, which would cater to each of their learning styles. Throughout this journey, it became apparent that we are constantly in a state of learning. Our life revolves around learning and moving forward each day in the “academic” moments and the osmosis moments. Prior, I had been “conditioned to thinking of learning as something that takes place in an educational institution, that our learning at work or in our everyday life does not seem to count as part of our learning” (Merriam and Bierema, 2014, p.16). As our own educational process evolved, our home education took a turn that would eventually become my philosophy of learning. I would begin to refer to our family dynamic we had discovered as being “lifelong learners”. This took the pressure off when one child did not grasp a concept as quickly as dictated by the outcomes and allowed the freedom to pursue this competency at a personal pace.
Those days of being responsible for the learning/education of my children has transitioned now to a coaching position as I stand on the sidelines of their pursuits and cheerlead. Now I watch all of them take a firm ownership of their own learning journey as a lifetime pursuit. They have all chosen vastly different career paths and enjoy a plethora of interests, which have been pursued with the confidence that they can be mastered and enjoyed over a lifetime. The home education journey is one I am privileged to have traveled. At first, I thought I was the teacher and as time went on, I realized I was also the student. I became a student of educational philosophy. I became a studier of my children’s learning styles. I became a student of history as real books began to spark an interest that had not been there before. It then became apparent that I was fulfilling the resonance in my heart regarding education being a fire to be lit. “Tips, tricks and techniques are not at the heart of education – fire is. I mean finding light in the darkness, staying warm in the cold world, avoiding being burned if you can, and knowing what brings healing if you cannot. That is the knowledge that our students really want, and that is the knowledge we owe them. Not merely the facts, not merely the theories, but a deep knowing of what it means to kindle the gift of life in ourselves, in others, and in the world” (Palmer, p. x; Foreword to O’Reilley, 1990). When we learn as a gift to our own life, to others and to give back to our community, we have been successful.
This takes me to the trend which I find particularly fascinating; Global Learning. To travel cross-culturally is an amazing opportunity for families. The world becomes the sketchbook, the canvas, the textbook, and travel is the means to access it. We embarked on many field trips and combined our family holidays with learning excursions in an effort to bring learning to life. This new trend is beautifully beyond. Immersed in a new culture, experiencing the food, the smell, and the perspectives of a foreign land brings learning to life in a way that no textbook is able. While still undertaking certain academic disciplines like Mathematics and Language Arts/English, learning is coupled with hands-on cultural and social study experiences. Science is found in the tide pools and the hikes through the mountains and deep in the caves. Social studies is unraveled in the conversations with diverse cultures and understanding is met eye to eye. What a remarkable way to learn. Learning is a lifetime journey and while this type of learning is not feasible to everyone, those who can and do will be rewarded with the ability to open the door of curiosity and delight with this emerging trend of Global Learning.
Merriam, Sharan. B. & Beirema, Laura, L., Adult Learning, Linking Theory and Practice (2014). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Palmer, P. (1999). The Courage to Teach. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
*All material on this blog is copyright Jacqueline Bay 2017