The gifts of education
I love giving gifts. I like to think that as I put my soul and mind into each class I teach, into each conversation I have with young people, that I am giving them small gifts they can take into their future.
Here are some of my greatest treasures, which I want to pass on to my children and my students.
The confidence to learn. Traditional education is often telling you what you need to learn and what you haven't learnt. It can be demoralising and terrifying. As you study for a test you are always wondering if you are learning the right thing, in the right way. I want to get rid of this. I love meandering through books, through ideas, and choosing something to learn simply because I want to. Because I am interested. Because it might be useful. And as I start a new learning adventure... take tentative steps into a new language, read a new subject... I am not worried about doing it wrong or not reading the right book... because I am confident that this is my journey, my adventure, done in a unique way that only I can lead. In every interaction with a young person I want to build this confidence. To applaud their unique investigations. To encourage their curiosity. To stand back and let them find their own way. Because learning something new can feel scary, so they need the confidence to try, and to know that even if they make a mistake, they can do it and find their way.
2. The humility to keep learning. Confidence is wonderful, but without humility we can end up arrogantly mistaken. The more I learn the more I realise how little I know of the vast swathes of knowledge. There is always a different way to look at something. There is always more to learn. As my education expanded my mind... as I read more voices from the past, the present, from near and far, I learnt about my common humanity with those who seemed so different, whom I might have judged so harshly. I started to see myself through their eyes and to be kinder in my assessment of all of us!
3. The joy of exploration. One of my favourite reasons for teaching is because I get to see wonder in action. I love sharing ideas with students and seeing their eyes light up as they consider a new idea. As they play with a new concept and laugh. Nothing in this world is better. Young people keep me inspired to see ideas with fresh eyes. What I have taught for 20 years, they are hearing for the first time and enjoying it! So I am reminded to keep enjoying it! Learning is WONDROUS. I never want this wonder to fade for me or my students.