I used to say to my kids that “I love learning” and they would just laugh at me. But I do. I relish each new concept I learn and take apart and roll it around in my brain. I love what I do which is helping teachers develop learning environments that are engaging and full of joy. Maybe what I want is for everyone, teachers and learners, to have that same “love of learning.”
I read AJ Juliani’s post “Why do so many bad students turn out to be great teachers?” and definitely could relate. I was just a s0-so student in high school. Traditional teacher-centered instruction just turned me off. I didn’t see why I had to learn the times of events in history from the most boring teacher I ever had. We had to sit straight with our hands clasped while he talked in a monotone voice. This was 10th grade. Now really!!
He destroyed my curiosity about history. I barely passed his class and felt stupid. Then in 11th grade my eyes were open to World History. I was drawn to want to learn more about the people and the times they were living in. We relived times and events and performed as characters from the past. I never had this experience before where I participated in the learning. I was even given a choice on how I wanted to express myself. This was where I got the bug for learning. I grew up in Maryland in a very nice area not too far from Washington, DC. A great place to grow up. I don’t think my experience with school was that different than others my age.
I’m going to go back where I lost my way — when I was in first grade. This is where I realized I was a “bad” student. My teacher was strict and even punished us with a ruler. She would put people in groups by height, girls or boys, and even by color of hair. So that’s when I lost my confidence. I was the only redhead in the class and sat by myself. Why would she do that? The year got worse and my confidence dropped farther and farther. I felt that I wasn’t very smart so this is how I participated in school all the way to 11th grade until I had that great History teacher. There were a few good teachers here and there and my parents always believed in me. My mom was an artist who taught me to think outside the box and draw outside the lines. That was never allowed in my 1st grade class. I loved learning before I started school, but school made me feel like I couldn’t learn.
After I graduated High School (barely), I moved to California and went to community college. I felt free. I felt like me. I was told when I was younger that I can’t write. But I can. I love to write. I wrote some poems for my English teacher and he asked me to read them in the quad. Everyone gave me great feedback. Then he helped me enter one of my poems in a contest. I won first prize. Then I took Anatomy and Physiology from an amazing teacher who made me want to learn everything about the body. I couldn’t wait to go to his class. Then I took Humanities and Art History. I loved this. All of it. I wanted more and more.
I realized and believe now that I am smart in my own way. I love to write and read and learn. I wish and hope all children never lose that love of learning, the curiosity they were born with, and the opportunities to be creative. This is why I see the importance of making learning personal for each and every learner.
I love learning. Do you?
Barbara, it breaks my heart to hear how you were taught as a young person. I have had so much trouble in my life, but it wasn’t in school. School was the only place I could count on being safe and I learned to love learning with a passion that will carry me to my grave. Somehow I only had about three of the kinds of teachers that it sounds like you had lots of… until you got to college.
It’s wonderful that you learned to love learning with so many obstacles set before you and I’m delighted that you’re sharing your story here. Saw the link on FB and jumped over to read it. You have been someone whose enthusiasm for student-centered learning has inspired me since I first ran into you online back in 2006, I think. Bravo, learning-lover!! More, more!!!
Let’s be role models for continuous learning all the way to the end…
Thank you Meri! I needed that today. I’m learning from you too!!
It was nice to read your story. I often wonder how it is that I became the teacher I am today considering the fact that I had many of your same views on the boring and monotonous nature of school. It sounds like your wonderful mother taught you so much about being your own person and loving life. I believe that loving life=loving what you do=passion. It makes me remember the message my father gave me. ..sometimes more than I wanted to hear it; be different, don’t become everybody else, he individual. You will be respected for it.
After reading your message I can see how my fathers few words influenced me more than I knew at the time. His message as well as your mother’swhat I want for all learners!