I love learning and was reminded by my colleague Dr. Patrick O’Connor in his reflections on the series of Road Less Traveled articles in the Around Kent publication. Dr. O’Connor identified eight themes he gleaned from his interviews and stories including the “love of learning” theme. He writes:
An excitement and affection for learning is evident as all subjects demonstrate the value of life-long learning. Learning is essential to their outlook on life and their vitality. They learned from all their experiences. They learned from their mentors, supervisors, teachers, parents and even their children.
In my formal K-12 education I loved learning but did not love how I was taught. I loved learning about things relevant to me, things I could immediately apply and most importantly things I was curious about. I consistently found, however, strategies used by my teachers rarely aligned with the ways I learned. As a result I struggled in school.
You see I love learning from my experiences, interactions and relationships -characteristics I found missing in my schooling. I asked why but teachers’ answers focused on what; I asked when and most answers focused on the future use of information; and I asked about skills and was told that they followed gaining knowledge.
I could blame my teachers for not listening to me, for not engaging me, for not asking what I found relevant and for not giving me options to learn from my experiences. But I think the education system in the 50’s and early 60’s relied on a small set of consistent teaching methods (lecturing, reading and homework) followed by occasional tests.
In my early years I really did love to learn and figured out how I could engage with others outside of school to meet my learning needs.
- My family and relatives taught me about farming including how to irrigate using pipe and setting head gates; how to mow, rake and bail alfalfa; how to plant, weed and pick cotton; and how to saddle and ride horses.
- My baseball coaches taught me how to understand the rules and nuances of the game, how to improve my skills and how to keep score.
- My scout leaders recognized things I could easily do and helped me improved as well as encouraged me to develop skills I initially struggled to accomplish.
- My friends and I learned how to make deals and make money to travel to baseball tournaments.
I loved this type of learning as it was not only relevant but built on my experience and had immediate consequences. To this day I continue to love to learn and fortunately can make choices to engage in activities that challenge my comfort zone leading to very satisfying positive impacts on me.
My family teaches me about patience, unconditional love, trust and conflict resolution. In my travels I learn to navigate foreign nations without a full grasp of their language and in some instances communicating only with my hand/body motions and emotions. During my daily walks I learn about my neighbors’ celebrations, joys and sadness and implications for my own feelings.
So yes, I do love to learn and find it hard to quell my thirst for finding meaning of my experiences and their impacts on others and me. I hope each student today and in the future also loves to learn and cannot get enough of it; these aspirations keep me going and inspire me to keep learning.