A Year of This, Makes A Lifelong Learner

Learning is fun

Learning to grow food is fun

photo credit:Barrett Garden Work Day -photopin.com

While schools have switched from chalkboards to keyboards, skills like how to think independently and how to collaborate with others are not taught by a computer – those skills are taught by great teachers who have a huge impact on our lives.

The memory of our favorite teacher stays with us after we finish school, because they are among our first adult leaders, other than our parents.

My favorite teacher was my grade three teacher, Mrs. Pulsford, way back in 1970, in Vancouver. She was a bar-raiser, mentor, and earth angel who cared about us, and turned us into students that cared about what she was teaching.

1. Great teachers encourage you to never give up on your dreams

The hippie/scholar knew that music education helps kids do better in subjects like math.* When she played guitar in music class, with an orchid in her velvet black hair for flower power, she motivated me to sign up for the school guitar lesson program.

“Teachers open the door but you must enter by yourself”
Chinese Proverb.

2. Great Teachers Teach Us That change Starts With Us

First she connected her students, by forming groups of eight students to read aloud together. We bonded, and belonged, and generated positive peer pressure and better grades. Our open book comprehension tests vaulted our reading levels. When we moved our chairs into a circle to read, we felt like the nomads we studied in our textbooks.

The summer after that class, I read every junior mystery book at the local public library due to my new love of reading.

Once she connected the students to one another, she connected us with our school community, when we tackled the school litter problem. Our low tech anti- litter campaign was bootstrapped with paper, crayons and safety pins.

Our hand drawn flowers had tears rolling down them, and the words “litter makes the flowers cry” under them. We pinned them to our jackets, and wore them outside at recess and lunch.
When a student littered, we said: “you dropped something”, and the awareness we raised helped us eliminate the litter problem.

3. Great Teachers Honor Our Individuality And Unique Talents

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
-Dr. Seuss

Celebrating our differences in a system that rewards compliance and conformity was a feat. Mrs. Pulsford balanced the teeter totter of conformity and individuality so well, that we fit in by being ourselves.

I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.
— Rita Mae Brown

She believed in our gifts and talents, and, like a magician, with gemstone eyes behind black framed glasses, she pulled the best out of us.

One day our group was assigned to bake a chocolate cake. Allowing eight kids to access the forbidden teacher’s staff room, turn on the oven, operate an electric mixer, and break eggs was the epitome of trust, and we didn’t disappoint her.

We learned to stop spilling batter on the recipe when we could no longer read it. We measured and mixed the ingredients and cleaned up the mess. We learned to do something we had never done before with a group. This made our future math problems on measuring and dividing a breeze.

Like birds learning to fly, our self-sufficiency and confidence grew:
Birds make great sky-circles
of their freedom.
How do they learn it?
They fall, and falling,
they are given wings.

Rumi

4. Great Teachers involve us in experiencing new things

Entrepreneur Richard Branson’s believes children learn more from travelling than being in the classroom.

Tactile and interactive quantum learning moments aren’t achieved through technology. The incubator in our grade three class housed baby chicks, which we could pick up, to feel their warm, downy feathers. We loved those chicks, and were sad when they grew too big for the classroom, and had to return to the farm, but we understood.

She placed the baby teeth we lost in glasses of Coke, so we could watch them disintegrate until they vanished. We grew green bean plants in the windowsill of the classroom and stuck our fingers in the soil to test the moisture level and decide if they needed to be watered.

With thirty four students in her class, Mrs. Pulsford was constantly changing the environment to make it exciting to learn in. We either had a class outdoors, with no walls, or we visited another classroom to see how they learn, so learning never became stagnant. We learned by doing.

5. Great Teachers Re-imagine the old ways of doing things

Entrepreneur Mark Cuban says: “99.99 percent of the things we do in business are being done the way they have always been done. No one has re-imagined how things should be done. That is what successful people do” *

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Albert Einstein

6. Great teachers make learning fun

As co-creators in a relaxed environment, we were free to explore and make mistakes. Happiness was conducive to acquiring knowledge and common sense.

As she read ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carrol, to us, her voice changing from soft to loud to emphasize the beat of the nonsense words, and circling our desks in stereo, she transported us to the dark swamp of tangled language, and engaged us in her passion for poetry…

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,…
And the mome raths outgrabe

7. Great teachers ask “WHY NOT?” 

For homework, she asked us to mail a postcard to her home address. We could either  make a postcard or buy one, then address it, write her a message, buy a 6 cent stamp and affix it, and place it in the mail box outside the drugstore. We learned where mail came from, and how to use the postal system.

She surprised us when she mailed a hand-made postcard back to each of us at home. Mine had a pink flower drawn on the front, and a message inside that thanked me for my postcard with The University of British Columbia campus on it, where she had studied. Years later, this is where I studied, inspired by her.

8. Great teachers raise the bar by getting out of the students’ way

My takeaway from her class is that life is our greatest teacher, and our family, friends, and adversaries are our teachers. Our passion exists in the joy of learning and our curiosity about the future.

Someone once said: “you have no friends, no enemies, only teachers.”

If you desire to be a lifelong learner, and a lifelong dreamer, then all you need, is one year, like the one that I was lucky enough to have, back in grade three.
#raisingbiz #lifelonglearning #AnnHoy #teachers #teaching #impact

#greatteachers #engage #encourage

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/32561453@N05/9985350765″>Barrett Garden Work Day</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Learning is fun

Learning by Doing

Hat tips to:

Seth Godin – Education System essay

*http://www.worldmag.com/2014/09/study_music_really_does_make_kids_smarter

*http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236587

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/32561453@N05/9985399006″>Barrett Garden Work Day</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>