In a conversation with my Mum yesterday I found myself dismissing the achievements/experiences of my Canadian diploma in Business Admin – Information Systems and my years of tertiary teaching. In context, this was simply because the Queensland College of Teachers told me 2 years ago that my education and work experience “meant nothing” when applying for the 1 year post-grad Education course. Of course, in reality my diploma, work experience and life experiences are very valuable because they all combine to make up the person that I am today. I am now also working on my 4-year BofEducation(Secondary) so that I can finally get a degree and so that I can teach in High Schools.
So in that conversation yesterday my Mum stopped me, and like the great Mum that she is, reminded me of the worth of my accomplishments and past experiences. This led me back on the never-ending question of what does it mean to be educated and what/who defines whether you are well-educated. We all know examples of ‘successful’ people who did not complete high school but went on to do great things; George Bernard Shaw, Quentin Tarantino and Richard Branson for example. Bill Gates also comes to mind, although I believe he quit half way through college. Oh and what is ‘successful’ anyway? How do you define that little gem of a word? I feel success when I see my child smile!
I believe I am well-educated but defining what that means is truly difficult because it would have to include a combination of my life experiences, especially living & traveling overseas & being a parent, my formal education (20 years of it so far!) and my work experiences. What about all the books, blogs and magazines that I have read? The movies and documentaries that I have watched. Or the conversation I had at the bus stop with a total stranger when I was 20 years old. The ‘key’ thing here for me is that I am forever growing, accumulating knowledge/experiences which then impact my view on the world and how I treat other people.
So back to my formal education. I am doing a 4 year BofEducation(Secondary) because I think I will be a great high school teacher and getting a degree is the only way that I’m going to make this happen. Educating our younger citizens is super important so I understand the need for qualifications & requirements. We don’t just want teachers who care, but also teachers with the skills to facilitate learning for EVERY individual student…..these skills don’t always come naturally. But what about the awesome potential ‘teacher’ in our community that just can’t write a University assignment? Are we missing out on a major potential for learning here? This is also why community involvement with our kids is so IMPORTANT because that awesome soccer Dad/Mum that is always there for their kids and all the other kids in the team or the wisdom of the canteen lady or the P&C Mum that brings everyone together for a community picnic are good learning influences on our kids.
Ah there are so many questions that come from this type of thinking, like why are we teaching what we are teaching in schools? Is it all driven by the needs of Business? Is this ok? With the pressure of the set curriculum, OPs & Naplan can we make enough time in the classroom to promote real critical thinking growth and what are the best ways to do this?
Here is a great article by Alfie Kohn that relates to the ideas in this blog post: http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/welleducated.htm