Day 17 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to learn a new thing.

I work in a profession which is all about learning. At least in theory. I think much of our education has been more about grades and credits than it has been about true learning. I love learning, though, and I am currently looking for new ways to engage in learning a new thing.

Over the years, I have been able to find many formal ways of learning. After high school, which was, for me, such a positive learning experience, even if socially it was questionable, I was able to steadily learn for four years at Western University before deciding that education was important to me as a way of helping others and hopefully making social changes. So, I earned a degree in Education and began my work in Secondary schooling.

I have always tried to I still in my students a belief that the learning is more important than the grade. But who are we kidding? If there is a grade involved at all, most students are going to care about that grade. As a principal I see the obsession with grades every day – from students and parents and teachers, some of whom still want to use marks as a way of rewarding or punishing compliance, rather than as a tool for feedback about how students are learning.

Enter…me.

For all the beliefs I have about marks as a tool for feedback, I know they matter to me too, when they are my grades. When I decided to earn my Master’s in Educational Leadership, I fought hard to earn the best marks I could, because I believed that reflected how worthy I was to be in this field.

Fast forward to today. It takes courage to learn a new thing. I am stuck. I am about to finish a professional learning program, and have only to complete the practicum portion. I am considering my learning from here, and I am very aware that, unlike when I was younger, I can not just drop all responsibilities to go earn another degree. If I could, I would run off to do a doctorate somewhere far away. But I could never afford the time or the tuition at this point.

So I am a person who needs to be learning. Here are my ideas. Let me know yours.

1. Find opportunities to learn that do not involve formal education. This is something I am privileged to do regularly as working for a learning organization affords next many learning opportunities. Perhaps there are opportunities here I haven’t considered.

2. Do a Doctor of Education program. This is on my list of things I want to do, but I am not sure if it financially feasible or if I would be able to do this with young kids and my career.

3. Turn on the laptop. did you know there are many universities and other learning organizations that are putting their courses online for anyone to access? I have been working through a course online from Yale. Did you know that at Yale University, the most popular course is The Psychology of Well-Being? So, Yale put the entire course – lectures, small group talks, readings, videos, quizzes, assignments – all of it online for anyone to take the course FOR FREE. You only pay if you wasn’t the certificate that says you took the course. So, for me, it took some courage to say, I just want to learn. I don’t need the recognition. There are hundreds of courses offered for free online. If you are interested in finding out more, check out EdX or Coursera as starting points. Or contact me and I will tell you more about it.

4. Learn a new skill completely unrelated to work. Maybe through Spectrum or through the Y? But what? I could learn to paint (and that would NOT be to satisfy those few negative people who have commented that my painted backgrounds that I post with each day’s themes are not good and I should stop putting them up. FYI, I know I am not a watercolour genius. I just enjoy it and I am going to keep putting them up as an act of courage) or learn to blow glass (something I didn’t do from my 45 Things project) or to play a new instrument or learn a new language. This might be a good idea because it will require me to step out of my comfort zone more.

Other ideas? I would love to hear from you. How have you shown the courage to learn a new thing? How can I? Tell me what you are learning and let’s celebrate that!

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